'VIOLENCE IS NOT THE NORM'
Shelter, Schools Work Together
To Increase Awareness Of Abuse
ky doki c. (;ur(;anus
Caihy Swaim, director of Hope
Harbor Home Inc. in Shallotlc, isn't
surprised to learn that a small num
ber of Brunswick County teen-agers
say they have experienced some
form of abuse or arc aware of an
abusive relationship within their
Results of a recent survey ton
dueled at the three local high
schools indicate that a small number
of county teen-agers claim to have
been abused physically or emotion
ally in a dating relationship.
"I'm not shocked," Ms. Swaim
said, "We know it's there, we just
need everyone who's involved with
these kids to know it, too."
Abuse inflicted upon women by
boyfriends or husbands is becoming
more and more publicized in the
media these days, and Ms. Swaim
says that she and her staff want to be
part of the public education effort to
"Violcncc is not the norm," she
said, "and we want girls to under
stand that before they marry this
She conducted the survey simply
to make public information she
hopes will alert parents and teachers,
make them aware that abuse docs
exist in Brunswick County.
The most important factor, Ms.
Swaim said, is to see that parents
and faculty have the facts about
"We need to make this informa
tion available to parents and teach
ers so they can understand what's
happening to their teen-agers," she
Hope Harbor staff circulated a
confidential questionnaire at West
Brunswick High in Shallotte, South
Brunswick High in Boiling Spring
Lakes and North Brunswick High in
A total of 277 students voluntarily
filled out the qucstionairc. In that
group, 169 were females and 103
were males. Five did not indicate
When questioned about the types
of abuse they've encountered in a
dating relationship, equal numbers
(26) said they had been physically
abused and sexually abused. Eighty
one students said that they had been
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Eighteen said they had been phys
ically abusive in a dating relation
ship, while seven admitted to sexu
ally abusing their partner. More, 41,
said they had inflicted emotional
The teen-agers were also asked if
they had ever at any time in their
childhoods been physically abused,
and 38 answered 'yes.'
A total of 28 students said that
they presently lived in a household
where their parents or the people
they live with arc involved in a do
mestic violence relationship.
Dating violence usually occurs to
women, and most frequently to teen
agers, Ms. Swaim said. She uses as
her reference the book. Gelling
Free , which gives advice to young
women and their parcnLs on dealing
with an abusive boyfriend and is
available from Hope Harbor Home.
Ms. Swaim said that often a tcen
aged girl won't confide in a parent
or teacher if their boyfriend is abus
ing them. Rather, she said, coun
selors, teachers and parents need to
be able to listen for any hints given
by the child.
Reacting to the survey results,
Karen Gordon, a school counselor at
North Brunswick High, said, "I'm
surprised, of course."
She is working with Hope Harbor
staff in hopes of continuing the edu
cation process for teachers, coun
selors and students. Ms. Gordon said
she plans to have staff from Hope
Harbor as well as therapists from
The Brunswick Hospital in Supply
present seminars for school faculty.
"Many students have a favorite
teacher, and they do confide in
them," she said. "We need to make
them (the teachers) more equipped
to deal with students who come to
them with problems. I even think
that some students have a tendency
to confide in a teacher instead of a
The seminars should begin after
Christmas, Ms. Gordon said. Her
hopes remain high that all persons
involved can work together to help
girls who need to talk about their ex
perience in an abusive relationship.
Ms. Swaim is willing to talk to
any parent who has questions about
how to approach a teen-ager with
suspcctcd abuse problems.
However, she said she encourages
most parents to simply listen to their
child. She said that listening is the
most beneficial tiling a parent can
do, and the silence of an abused
teen-ager can be the most harmful.
While the survey results arc cause
for concern, Ms. Swaim noted that
some teen-agers might not have in
terpreted the definition of abuse cor
"They might have a tendency to
exaggerate in a situation like this,
it's hard to know exactly who's be
ing abused." she said.
Persons with questions or con
cerns relating to abuse or violence
within a relationship can call Hope
Harbor Home, a center for assis
tance and counseling for abused
women and children, at 754-5726.
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STAFF PHOTO RV DORIC GUR6AXUS
WEST BRUNSWICK HIGH SCHOOL student Paul Whitley (foreground) talks with Hope Harbor
Home director Cathy Swaim (right) as he fills out a survey on abuse which was provided by the local
center. Seated next to Ms. Swaim is Hope Harbor staff member Carolyn Hodge.
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