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Teen Mom Barrier Number #5: Domestic Violence

The jangling phone startled me awake. A glance at the clock told me it was just past midnight. As soon as I recognized the voice of the crying girl on the other end of the line, my heartbeat spiked.

19-year-old Ellie* had recently left her abusive boyfriend and obtained a restraining order, which meant statistically she was likely to experience more, or even elevated, abuse.

In fact, a victim of domestic violence is most vulnerable during the first month after leaving the relationship – 1/3 of domestic violence homicides occur during the first month after obtaining a restraining order

As I tried to determine if Ellie’s ex-boyfriend was inside the apartment where she lives, I could hear the police arrive, and I began to breathe again. Ellie and her 2-year-old daughter were safe – at least for tonight.

Unfortunately, teen moms are an especially vulnerable group when it comes to domestic violence. According to an NCBI study, mothers under age 20 are two to three times more likely to experience abuse than adult mothers. And it often starts with controlling behaviors.

Ellie’s story serves as a prime example. When she first began dating Jason*, his desire to spend all of his time with her seemed sweet. Soon, however, he began quietly cutting her off from family and friends.  As often happens, this behavior soon led to violent expressions of control.

Recognizing that abusive relationships are a reality for many teen moms, Hope House of Colorado offers Healthy Relationship courses that are strategically designed to educate young moms about domestic violence.

As our teen moms work through The Story of Hope curriculum, written by Hope House staff member and state licensed counselor Trisha Daly, they often reference the “Red Flags” lesson as their favorite.

This chapter features the domestic violence wheel, which is an effective way to start the conversation and empower teen moms to be able to identify red flags in current or past relationships. Equipping these young women with knowledge is an excellent first step, but building long-term, stable relationships with healthy adults is just as crucial in preventing further abuse – which is why at Hope House we provide supportive services for up to five years after graduation.  Long-term relationships make all the difference.

I am glad to report that Ellie and her daughter have moved into a new home, and Ellie recently applied to a local college. She is also working hard to rebuild healthy community at Hope House after cutting off these relationships while dating Jason. 

Our staff members and volunteer mentors encourage Ellie daily, reminding her that she is loved and cherished by them and by God. She is well on her way to overcoming one of the hardest barriers our teen moms face on their journeys toward self-sufficiency – that very dark side road into domestic violence.  


By Lisa Steven, Founder & Executive Director, Hope House of Colorado - See more at:

By Lisa Steven, Founder & Executive Director, Hope House of Colorado

*Names have been changed.

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Knowledge Share #1: Brain Development - 01/12/2016

December 2015

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Teen Mom Barrier #7: Homelessness - 10/09/2015

July 2015


June 2015

Teen Mom Barrier Number #5: Domestic Violence - 06/03/2015

May 2015

Teen Mom Barrier # 4 The Challenges of College - 05/12/2015

April 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #3: The Unexpected Bill: Car Repair, Doctor's Visit, Broken Pipe - 04/03/2015

February 2015

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October 2014

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April 2014

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July 2013

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May 2013

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