TUPELO – Some Tupelo High School students acted out violent relationships on video this month to help spread the word about the prevalence of dating violence, especially among teens.
The video, which can be seen at SafeShelter.net, might seem surprising at first since there is very little physical violence portrayed, but physical violence is rarely the starting point for abuse in dating relationships.
“Unless it’s straight up hitting someone, it’s mostly accepted by people outside a relationship and people within the situation,” said senior Megan Davis, a member of the class that produced the video.
Christian Bean, a junior and actor in the video, said he had never really thought of controlling and emotionally abusive behaviors as violent until working on the video.
The video was posted to the Safe Shelter’s website at the beginning of February in observance of Dating Violence Awareness Month.
“I think, because it’s often subtle, little things, people think of it as normal relationship stuff so it’s a lot more common than we’d like to think that it is and that’s usually when it starts to escalate,” said Victoria Wise, a junior and one of the actors in the video. “When they always feel like they have to be with the other person and always have to know what they’re doing and they read their text messages to keep track of who they’re talking to. That’s when they start to control who the other person talks to, what they wear, who they come into contact with.”
Penelope Dao, a senior in the class, said she has seen a friend go through an abusive relationship that was never physical. “I feel like most of the teen relationship abuse is based off of people who are insecure about who they are and who they’re with and if they’ll still be with them,” Penelope said.
The video portrays a young man’s controlling behavior and small but mean-spirited acts of physical violence escalate into physical abuse. In a second couple, the young woman controls her boyfriend, down to who he texts and eats lunch with, asserting herself over him in an emotionally abusive way.
Charlie Davis, a junior in the class, said he was glad to see both men and women portrayed as aggressors in their short film because, while men report abuse much less often, it is still common and under reported.
“Most of that you don’t hear about because guys are expected to say, ‘Oh it ain’t nothing, I don’t need to talk about it,’” he said. “There is a stigma attached to guys. You’re supposed to suck it up, even if there really is a problem.”
The Safe Shelter in Tupelo offers help to anyone who finds themselves in an abusive relationship. Its 24-hour crisis hotline is (800) 527-7233.