Teens Teaching Teens About Dating Violence

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA--It's a clever concept, especially when it's dealing with a powerful subject.  Kids need to know how to spot it and prevent it.

NewsWest 9 spoke with a group of Odessa High School students, who have taken it upon themselves to get the word out.  And they're doing it in a very original way.

The production is short and, at times, far from sweet.  In fact, it's straight to the point. A group of talented teens are running the gammet between healthy and unhealthy relationships and drives home the message to anyone in an abusive relationship, love shouldn't hurt.

According to Renee Morris, Assistant Executive Director of The Crisis Center in Odessa, "It is so prevalent. It is epidemic. 1 in 3 teenagers will be impacted by dating abuse."

It's a scary statistic, but it's true. That's why the OHS Theatre Department is donning purple shirts and taking on roles they never thought they would.

"Trying to show them the signs of each single thing that an abuser does, isolation, manipulation, the violence involved in all this and also show how the abused people react to this and how people are affected around them," Theatre Club President and actor, Edgar Rodriguez, said.

"Love Shouldn't Hurt" is an original script written, directed and performed by the students themselves.

For Bree Carrasco, playing a victim was hard, but she feels the message needs to be told in a way teens can understand.

"I think everyone should be aware of it, I mean, it's out there. You can't hide it. People try to hide the scars and bruises but we just need to pull together and stop it," Carrasco said.

Zoe Alvarado shows a different version of the picture. She plays a girl who abuses her boyfriend, something that is more common than people think.

"1 out 15 men have been in abusive relationships. I just want to make sure that everybody knows that being abused isn't right. It may be normal to them, but it's not right," Alvarado said.

Theatre teacher Chyree LeMaster says the kids jumped at the chance to put this show together after seeing a presentation from The Crisis Center. She says she couldn't be any prouder of them than she is now, "It's really interesting because they started out and they were scared to say some of those words and perform some of those actions. The more reality we can give to that, the more people are going to understand."

When asked why it was so important to get the word out on this, the kids all agreed.  The title of the show says it best.

"Love shouldn't hurt, is all I can say," Carrasco said.

"Love is something you should feel safe in, not scared of your partner. Love just isn't supposed to hurt," Alvarado said.

If you're a teen and you or someone you know is a victim of dating violence, or you suspect they might be, call The Crisis Center in Odessa at 432-333-2527 or talk to a parent or teacher immediately.