Perils of teen dating: Valley teen opens up about her abusive relationship
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. This is the second in a four-part special series from KTAR News 92.3 FM about the perils of teen dating. Read part one here.
For Abby Parker, the abuse started almost immediately after she began dating a 17-year-old boy. She was 14 at the time.
“There were a lot of red flags that now I notice,” she said. “He would call me all these names. It would not stop. If he was angry, he’d just let it all out.”
They met in July 2015 through a mutual friend. At first, he lived in another state before moving back to Arizona, so they mostly communicated over the phone and on social media.
Abby also was sick when they met and was constantly in the hospital.
“He was there for me through a lot of it,” she said. “But at the same time, it was almost like he wanted to be the only person in my life.”
He’d get mad if she didn’t answer his calls or text messages or even if she was with her friends and family.
He’d also make up stories.
Abby said he once told her his dad beat him up. He sent her photos of injuries that she later found out he pulled from online. She said he also claimed he had lung cancer and that “his last dying wish was for me to have his baby.”
“It was all crazy things to be telling a 14-year-old girl who had no idea what was going on at the time,” she said.
By December, Abby had enough and broke up with him.
“That definitely threw him off the deep end,” she said. “He started calling me and calling me. I eventually blocked his number, and he would call me from no caller ID. I’m talking probably 45 times in an hour he would call.”
She said he left her voicemails threatening to hurt her.
“He called me one day and said, ‘You better watch out because I know where you live. I know which bedroom is yours, and I’m not afraid to come in and rape and kill you in front of your mother,’” she said.
That is when Abby turned to her mom, Suzy, for help.
“I actually tried to involve his mom first,” Suzy said. “She just kept avoiding me and said she has no control of him and doesn’t know what to do.”
Abby and her mom then went to the police and got an order of protection, which barred him from contacting and coming near Abby.
But when a mysterious car tried to run Abby over and someone tried to break in their house, Suzy felt they needed to do more.
“That was the day that I just decided we can’t live here anymore,” she said. “So we just packed our bags and moved out. We basically went into hiding for about three months.”
Abby changed her phone number and social media accounts. But he still managed to find her.
It’s now been nearly five years since they met, and Abby said he continues to harass her despite the protective orders that she has had to renew against him every year.
“I still am to this day afraid,” Abby said. “I spoke openly in court and I said how I felt. And how I feel is when is the day going to come that I’m gonna have to go home in a body bag instead of my car, and then are you guys going to do something more serious?”
Abby and her mom have tried to get him to go to jail, but the courts have not sided with them. As a result, Abby said she is “very careful.”
“If I’m walking by myself anywhere, I always look behind me,” she said. “I don’t walk out of work alone anymore. I usually have a security guard walk me out, and they make sure I get out okay.”
She also now has a tough time trusting people, so she has a small group of friends and hasn’t been able to date much.
“It’s not necessarily easier, but you learn how to cope better, I guess, over the years,” she said. “It’s still there. It’s still a trauma and anybody who’s been through that will know exactly what I’m talking about. You learn to cope better. You never truly get over it, though.”
If you’re a teen in an abusive relationship or know one who is, you can call or text bloom365 at 888-606-HOPE (4673) or Teen Lifeline at 602-248-TEEN (8336). You can also call the National Teen Dating Violence Hotline at 866-331-9474.
Arizona open and hiring: If you’re looking for job openings, visit ktar.com/arizonahiring.