On PBS (Check local listings)

A half hour special from In the Mix, the award winning PBS series

Teens from cities, small towns and suburbs nationwide – regardless of background – have spoken out during In the Mix discussion sessions and the results are astonishingly consistent: more than 90 percent have asked In the Mix for programming on dating violence. Dating violence profoundly affects their lives and their friends, yet they feel isolated and powerless, with nowhere to go for information and help. An unspoken problem and secret, dating violence is largely ignored, yet its significance reverberates far beyond the dating scene. Experts emphasize that it must be addressed early to prevent a life-long pattern. In the Mix produced this special to heighten awareness and understanding of the problem, help young people recognize early signs of trouble and show them what they can do to get help. In the Mix profiles two young women who finally break free from long-standing abusive relationships. The special examines the underlying social and psychological phenomena, helps young women see that dating violence is not their fault and shows how young people can find help and move on with their lives.


How to Use This Program

Twisted Love: Dating Violence Exposed deals with behavior, emotions and relationships with sensitivity and understanding. We suggest that you view the entire special with a small group of young people, using this guide to help stimulate discussion. We recommend that you include the telephone numbers of local agencies or programs that can provide help to young people as part of your presentation.

Research by RMC Research on earlier In the Mix specials has shown that these programs engage the interest of teenagers; deliver important information in compelling, age-appropriate ways; catalyze discussion on important issues; promote critical thinking, problem-solving, positive personal and interpersonal actions and a greater sense of self-efficacy among teens.


The "Twisted Love: Dating Violence Exposed" Discussion Guide is divided into the following sections:

What Is Abuse?


Getting Out

Pressing Charges

Programs That Help

What Would You Do If…


Early Warning Signs

What’s Your Dating Violence I.Q.?

The program is hosted by Neve Campbell from TV’s "Party of Five" and In the Mix reporters.

Twisted Love: Dating Violence Exposed carries one-year off-air taping rights and performance rights. Check your local PBS listings for airtimes.

Videotape copies of the program can be purchased for $69.95 (plus $5.00 shipping and handling per order; includes performance rights and a Discussion Guide), and can be ordered by sending a check or purchase order to: In the Mix, 114 E. 32 Street, Suite 903, New York, NY 10016. There is a discount of $5.00 per tape on orders of any five or more In the Mix titles.

Other videos of interest to grades 7-12 are available on topics including: Drug Abuse; Teen Immigrants; Depression and Suicide, Gun Violence; Computer Literacy and Careers; Self-Image and the Media; Sports Participation; Media Literacy; Activism; Alcohol and DWI; Getting Into College; School to Work Transition; Careers; Relationships; AIDS; and others. For a complete catalog, call: (212) 684-3940 or (800) 597-9448, or write to us at: 114 E. 32 Street, Suite 903, New York, NY 10016, or visit

c 1996 In the Mix. Twisted Love: Dating Violence Exposed is a production of Castle Works Inc. In the Mix was created by WNYC Radio.


Kelly and Aisha talk about their relationships with their boyfriends and how the abuse started – one physical, the other emotional. Mike and Tamara talk about their abusive relationship, and Mike reveals why he sometimes hits Tamara. Two therapists explain why some young men abuse their partners.

What kinds of abuse are addressed in this program?

(Physical and emotional)

What are the signs of an abusive relationship?

(See What's Up section for warning signs.)

What similar effects did the abuse have on both young women?

(They lost self-esteem; felt powerless, controlled and trapped.)

Why does Mike say he has to hit Tamara sometimes and how does he try to justify hitting her?

(Mike hits Tamara to keep her in line when she disagrees with him; he firmly believes that the man should have total control in a relationship and that Tamara must go along with that he wants.)

How does Mike's belief in the role of a man and a woman in a relationship promote his abusive behavior?

(Mike was brought up in a family where the father runs the family and is never wrong about anything; Mike believes that the best way to keep a relationship intact is to have the man control things, and that if the woman gets in the way, she must be disciplined.)


Kelly and Aisha sink deeper into their relationships, adjusting to the abuse and beginning to accept it as normal. A perpetually renewing cycle of abuse, distress and reconciliation becomes the prevailing pattern of their relationships, a pattern they both become dependent upon – addicted to.

Why do young women get trapped in abusive relationships?

(They think it's somehow their fault; they start believing they deserve abuse; their self esteem erodes; they begin to equate love with this behavior; they hope it will get better.)

What is the cycle of abuse?

(A pattern within a relationship that goes from abuse through forgiveness to reconciliation - then starts all over again.)


Friends don't understand why it took years for both Kelly and Aisha to finally get out. Both girls mention their need for a father figure. Aisha finally calls it quits because of extreme violence and gets help through a teen theatre program; Kelly's decision is triggered by a theft. Therapists point out that it is often the woman who is questioned and blamed for staying in a relationship like this, not the male for his abusive behavior.

Why is so little attention paid to male abusive behavior?

(Often because of the acceptance of stereotypical roles and the belief that men have power and control over women; society also sometimes tends to blame the victim.)

What are some warning signs for abusers?

(Show extreme jealousy; explosive temper; constantly ridicule, criticize and insult partner; become violent with alcohol or drugs; throw and break partner's belongings; threaten, hit, kick or otherwise injure partner; intimidate or force sex; make partner account for every moment; spy on them and accuse them of seeing others.)


The District Attorney of Westchester County outlines legal rights and shows what steps the system takes to protect victims.

What kind of charges can be brought?

(Assault or harassment, depending on the severity.)

Can a district attorney take any deterrent action if a victim decides not to press charges? (Yes. The DA can speak to the abuser and warn him that such behavior is illegal and could be prosecuted if it were to happen again.)


Teen members of The Dating Violence Intervention Program go to a Boston high school where they conduct a workshop on dating violence, exposing stereotypes that can help it take hold. The students and Melanie discuss how to handle provocations more acceptably. Teen actors in a program called FACES act out dating violence scenes and laud their program as a release for their feelings as well as a way to increase awareness.

What do the peer educators in the Dating Violence Prevention Program demonstrate for their fellow students?

(They generate student responses to different pictures that demonstrate how people categorize others; they make the point that accepting stereotypes of powerless submissive women and powerful, controlling men can make inappropriate dating violence behavior seem more normal.)

In dealing with anger, what are some possible alternative behaviors to violence?

(Sit down and talk it out calmly – or if you cannot, walk away and talk to a counselor or a friend about it.)

Are there enough programs to help teens who are abusers?

(No. Some programs do exist, but more are needed to help both young women and young men. See the Resources section for suggestions.)


Your good friend keeps making lame excuses – like falling down or walking into a locker door – to explain her cuts and bruises. You suspect her boyfriend is beating up on her. What do you do or say?

Melissa's boyfriend forbids her to hang out with her friends, talk to other boys or go out after school without him. What do you do? Who do you talk to? What do you say?

Your buddy boasts about knocking his girlfriend around – the same way he boasted about keeping his last girlfriend in line. Do you do or say anything? What?



For Printed Information and Local Referrals:

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence


(Offers referrals to counselors and support groups in your area)

The Mental Health Association


(Offers referrals to the Mental Health Association in your area which has counselors and support groups for young people.)

National Coalition of Agencies Against Dating Violence


(Offers referrals to support groups, videos on dating violence and reading materials.)


Faces, 902 48th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11219. 718-283-7861

(Teen theatre group featured in this program which deals with many issues including dating violence.)

Recommended Reading:

Next Time She'll be Dead, Ann Jones.

The Emotionally Abused Woman, B. Engel

Watch for a story on Dating Violence in React (April 8, 1996), a weekly news and entertainment magazine for teens, published by PARADE.



You may be headed for an abusive relationship, if you are dating someone who:

If your family and friends have warned you about the person or worry about your safety, think about it. You think they just don't understand, but they may understand more than you think... and they care about you. Confide in a trustworthy advisor, mentor, friend or relative. And check out the resources in the Resources section. You don't have to suffer in silence. You don't have to be trapped.



Here are some statements that a lot of people believe. What are they – FACT or fiction?

THEY SAY.... Victims bring on abuse themselves. They ask for it.

FACT. Wrong. Abusers believe they have the right to use abuse to control their victims. They see the victim as less than an equal.

THEY SAY.... If someone stays in an abusive relationship, it must not be so bad.

FACT. NO WAY! People stay in abusive relationships for a number of reasons: fear, dependence (including economic), confusion, loss of self-confidence, not recognizing the relationship as abusive, belief that the abuser needs their help, belief that the abuser will change.

THEY SAY.... Men are battered by women just as often as women are battered by men.

FACT. NO WAY! 95 percent of the reported incidents of assault in relationships are committed by males, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice.

THEY SAY.... Most batterers are crazy or uneducated.

FACT. Wrong! Batterers are found in all classes: rich, poor, and in between; professional and unemployed; and in all ethnic groups.

THEY SAY.... An occasional punch is OK; it is not abuse.

FACT. NOT OK! It is abuse – and it is a criminal act.

THEY SAY.... Jealousy and possessiveness are signs of true love.

FACT. NO THEY ARE NOT. They are signs that the person sees you as a possession. They are the most common early warning signs of abuse.

THEY SAY.... There is nothing a victim of dating violence can do – and no place for abusers to get help.

FACT. WRONG! There is help – counselors, teachers, parents, hotlines and specially designed programs. There are also some designed for young men who have abused their girlfriends. Check out the Resources section.