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North Syracuse woman raises dating violence awareness

One in three teens is a victim of domestic violence by a partner

Kari Ann Gorman's mother had no idea she was being abused.

"As her mother, I did notice changes in Kari after she started dating her abuser," said Buffalo-area native Kim Gorman. "I am very sorry that never having been around abusive relationships myself, I was not aware that the changes I was seeing in Kari were so dangerous. We only knew that we did not like the changes that we were seeing."

As it was, the abuse wasn't physical until Shawn Wolf, 19, shot and killed 18-year-old Kari on July 26, 2008.

Sadly, Kari's story isn't unique. A recent study by Liz Claiborne Inc., a national leader in teen dating violence prevention, found that one-third of teens will be a victim of abuse by a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Sad statistics

The statistics concerning dating violence among teens are staggering.

"One in three teens will be a victim of domestic violence by a partner," said Stephanie Piston of North Syracuse. "So if you have a classroom of 30 students, 10 of those are potential victims."

And it starts at a young age, said Piston, a New York State Action Leader for Moms and Dads for Education to Stop Teen Violence.

"The sad trend is that we're seeing this kind of behavior in kids as young as 11," Piston said. "In tweens ages 10 to 13, 50 percent of kids have witnessed verbal abuse of someone they knew by a boyfriend or girlfriend."

Indeed, according to a Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, 26 percent of teenage girls in a relationship reported enduring repeated verbal abuse, while 13 report being physically hurt or hit. Twenty-four percent of 14 to 17-year-olds know at least one student who has been the victim of dating violence.

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