February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Juan Ruiz is in jail for shooting his ex-girlfriend, Johanna Orozco in the face in 2007 Juan Ruiz is in jail for shooting his ex-girlfriend, Johanna Orozco in the face in 2007

Teen dating violence is an alarming trend throughout the country, kids involved in dangerous and sometimes deadly relationships.

Now, a national effort is underway to expose warning signs and stop the violence.@

An abusive dating relationship nearly cost Johanna Orozco her life, "He got controlling, very jealous. I couldn't wear certain clothes or hang around with certain people til it got to a point where I couldn't hang around with my family."

Johanna survived, her ex-boyfriend behind bars now, but many don't survive the violence.

Police still not confirming whether the 16-year-old boy they have in custody for the shooting death of 16-year-old Jennifer Zacarias was her boyfriend or not, but family members have said that's what detectives told them.

Jennifer was shot and killed in her own backyard on Friday. It's too late to escape the relationship for her, but not for the one in five teens out there currently in an abusive relationship.

Dr. Margaret Stager with MetroHealth Medical Center warns,"The cycle may start off with very sweet and loving affectionate behaviors that turn the corner to become more abusive and controlling behavior which then might be followed by an apology - the sweetness the kindness the affection and back around again."

Dr. Stager has seen victims of teen dating violence in her practice over the years. She says it's important for teens and their parents to know the warning signs.

"What a girl might notice is that he's constantly checking on me. He might check your phone. He might check your texts. He might ask what you were doing - where have you been? Who were you with? The other warning sign may be that he has already hit you once or pushed you."

Name calling or isolation from friends and family are also big red flags, and boys can be victims too. The most important thing to know is that abuse should never be tolerated because love shouldn't hurt.

"Get out of it because it doesn't get better. I don't want anybody to end up like I did," Johanna says.

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