By Rikki King Herald Writer
SNOHOMISH — The decisions weren’t supposed to be easy.
There were tugs of teenage rebellion, feelings of love and pressures from parents.
The teenagers joked around, but words like “creepy” and “scary” started to fill the air as their stories played out. Some stories ended in dinner at home, others in death.
A class of mostly seniors at Glacier Peak High School on Thursday simulated real-life dating-violence scenarios to learn about the red flags of unhealthy relationships.
They were some of the first young people to go through “In Their Shoes,” a dating-violence awareness exercise created after the death of a Stanwood teen in 2004.
Dayna Fure was gunned down by her ex-boyfriend just months before she was supposed to leave for college. Her family helped fund “In Their Shoes” because they wanted to end the loss of young lives to domestic violence.
The program originally was designed for adults who work with teens, but the new version for young people just came out.
The class was hosted by Alyssa Morgan, an educator with Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County.
“One in three of your friends, or maybe you or a sister or brother or cousin, has been affected by violence in their relationships,” she said. “You have rights as a person and as a teenager.”
Many abusive relationships start when the victim is young, Morgan said.
Seniors Anders LaBerge and Drew Matthews acted out a scenario where a boyfriend kept encouraging a young woman to lie to her family so she could spend time alone with him.
“She’s having some self-conflict,” LaBerge said.
The young woman’s character grew increasingly nervous as the boyfriend’s behavior escalated. The teens ultimately decided she should go home.
“We’re trying to make good decisions here,” Matthews said.
“(The boyfriend) is a bad person,” LaBerge said.
A scenario acted out by seniors Brooke Monroe and Olga Yarema had a similar spiral for their character.
“She’s like freaking out,” Monroe said.
At the end of the exercise, Morgan reminded the teenagers to look out for themselves and their friends. She also reminded them that texting and other new ways of communicating can be harassment if messages are controlling, threatening or unwanted.
She reminded them that abusers can be either gender, and both boys and girls can be victims.
“It doesn’t matter your religion. It doesn’t matter your sexual orientation,” she said. “It can affect everyone.”
Morgan also talked about Dayna Fure, and how her life ended just as she was trying to leave her abusive relationship.
“In Their Shoes” was created “to educate all of you, to let you know abuse can happen every day without us ever knowing it,” she said.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you or someone you know needs help regarding domestic violence, contact the Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County hotline at 425-25-ABUSE, or 425-252-2873. The hotline is free and confidential.
Classes are available for teens to learn about safe dates and healthy relationships. For more information, call 425-259-2827.
If you’re interested in participating in “In Their Shoes,” contact your local domestic violence advocacy program or go to www.wscadv.org.