Mika is a dating abuse survivor and an advocate and educator for healthy relationships and dating abuse prevention.
My name is Mika Sasaki and I live in San Francisco.
My first relationships in high school were emotionally abusive and controlling. My boyfriends told me where I could go and who I could hang out with, and yelled and called me names if I didn’t do what they told me. This became normal for me.
Now I know what I didn’t know then – that the nature of abuse is that, without intervention, it escalates over time. My next relationship was with a young man, who after three months of dating, broke my phone, broke into my house, stole belongings, stalked me at school, and severely beat me. I had to get a restraining order against him. There were days I couldn’t sleep. I was constantly worried. The worst part was that it affected my education.
My ex-boyfriend was arrested and recently convicted of two felonies.
I wasn’t the only one in my school dealing with these issues. At my high school, I had friends who were dealing with abuse in their relationships. I saw abusive behavior from boys and girls. These behaviors spilled out into the hallways, the lunch room and even the classroom. At that age, we didn’t necessarily know better.
And while of course, it’s the parents’ responsibility to teach their children right and wrong, the fact is, as students, we spent up to 40 hours a week or more at school. Teachers witness a lot that parents don’t. And parents rely on schools to protect their children from harm when they are on campus.
Aside from a few caring counselors and health center staff, teachers and the school administration were largely silent about dating abuse. When victims of dating abuse do come forward, other students accuse them of being a snitch. Victims end up feeling that no one will have their back.
Dating abuse polices will make a huge difference in the lives of students in California. They will make sure that schools don’t ignore dating abuse on campus. They will help connect victims to support. They will also help offenders, whose behavior often escalates without intervention.