The group then debated over whether the boyfriend should resort to violence, even in an emergency situation.
Case discussions like this are a critical part of the teen group meeting, Batista says.
Nick threatened to drive the car into the water as the pair traveled along a long two-lane bridge.
His girlfriend, Caitlin, panicked and tried to grab the steering wheel.
“They are hyperagitated, aggressive, assertive.” To curb that cyclical violence, Pamela Krasner, LCSW, director of the children’s program at Sanctuary for Families, argues the best treatment is early intervention.
“You’re trying to prevent the cycle from repeating,” Krasner says, “and you’re getting in with the case right after the abuses happen.
He was born to an unmarried couple in El Salvador and was a frequent witness to his father beating his mother.
“Young boys who saw their mothers being abused could become abusers,” says Silverman-Yam, who has been counseling both children and teenagers for nearly 20 years at Sanctuary for Families.Derived from real-life scenarios, the discussions help teenagers identify the warning signs of potential violence and the type of abusive behavior—physical, emotional, and financial—that are common in relationships.For teenagers who grew up witnessing family violence, the borderline between love and abuse is often blurred, Batista says.“There is intergenerational transfer, but early intervention helps children understand what a healthy relationship is and helps them gain a mastery of the environment because, ultimately, domestic violence is about loss of power.” That is exactly what Batista hoped for when she started a teen therapy group in June 2012.
Her goal is not only to let children open up to her and understand her perspective but also to allow them to learn about other teens’ experiences and give each other suggestions so they don’t feel alone in their situation.
Seated in a circle in front of her were five junior high school and high school students, backpacks lying on the ground at their feet.