A rainbow of colorful dresses donned the hallway leading to the library where a message about awareness was given. Cindy Figel began the program with a prayer in memory of a 20-year-old IU student Heather Ancelet Norris, who was in an abusive relationship with her boyfriend. That relationship ended tragically in 2007 when she tried to leave.
The lesson taught at Bishop Luers High School was about love.
Heather thought she was in love… Her controller/abuser, her boyfriend, convinced her that they could not live without each other.
“Love is respect” was the message given to the teens in attendance on Thursday evening.
“Love is not,” was shown in the movie, Reviving Ophelia, and talked about in a discussion led by Luers’ teacher Megan Ryan.
Matt, the boyfriend in the movie, told his girlfriend what to wear, how to act, what to say…everything. She spent less time with her parents and family. And stopped talking to her friends. It was just boyfriend and girlfriend alone all the time. He began to slap her. Hit her. She lied to her parents and friends that she had fallen. Covering up the incident. It happened again, this time she ended up in the hospital. She finally took the courageous step of leaving her boyfriend. But he continued to search her out.
Bishop Luers staff expressed to the teens how crucial it is for girls to have friends and family who recognize the signs of abuse and take the problem seriously.
Through Heather’s Closet, a project founded by Joni Kuhn at Bishop Luers, high school girls are educated about domestic violence and its signs.
Joni said, “In a relationship, yes, there are warm fuzzies! But you need to know the signs. The red flags.”
At the close of the evening the girls did what all teenage girls love to do. Shop! There were a multitude of beautiful dresses. Short and long. Bright and black. Frilly and plain. All on sale! For a mere price of $25 each. These items were generously donated to the school for Heather’s Closet. New and gently used gowns are accepted throughout the year at Bishop Luers High School by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. The proceeds are used to build a resource library.
Many parents and friends think that these are just young girls and boys in a young relationship. It is young love. It’ll end. But sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it escalates. Statistics show that 1 in 5 high school girls are physically or sexually hurt by a dating partner.
Parents and friends who suspect a loved one being abused should watch for these signs:
Calling names or put downs
Hitting, slapping, punching, bruises
Monitoring her email or text messages
Texting excessively-10, 20, 30 times an hour
Forcing her into doing things
Keeping her away from family or friends
A cycle of fighting and then, making up with gifts
Bishop Luers wants teenage girls to know they are not alone. “There are people out there who understand. Please get help. Tell a friend. A parent. A teacher. Talk to someone.”