Love is in the air.
But sometimes love changes. Sometimes it was never love at all.
Sometimes what seems like love is control. It’s possession. It’s dangerous.
And sometimes we don’t know how to explain the difference to our kids.
The blossoming days of spring are warming and waltzing toward prom season and graduation, toward Memorial Day picnics and vacation trips, toward spring flings and summer romance. New love is exciting. It’s fun. And it can be overwhelming.
Gary Cuccia knows that. His daughter Demi was 16 when she died. But she didn’t just die. She was stabbed, one blow for every year of her life, by her first love and her brother’s best friend. Cuccia wants kids and parents to be better prepared for how a relationship can go wrong.
“Since Demi’s murder, I’ve spoken to thousands of young people about relationship abuse, and I’ve learned a lot. Teenagers want their privacy and they go to great lengths to keep their parents out of their business; this is normal, healthy even,” Cuccia said. “But most of them don’t know the warning signs, any better than Demi did. They are vulnerable, and they don’t know it. It’s easy to get caught up in the overwhelming feelings of a new relationship.”
The Tribune-Review worked with the FISA Foundation to create a video to help navigate those warnings.
The point isn’t to discourage a romance. It’s to keep it safe. Dating violence is real. It happens every day. Sometimes the damage is physical, and sometimes it’s more subtle and psychological, but the solution is the same either way.
Kids need to know what a healthy relationship looks like. Parents need to know when to be worried.
And everyone needs to know how to communicate what is happening and when they need help.
One in three teens will encounter some sort of dating abuse. The more aware we all are, the more of it we can stop.