A Growing Problem: Teen Domestic Violence in Michiana
ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. -- Teen dating violence is a problem plaguing one and a half million high school students across the country, and many are right here in Michiana.
What many parents think can only happen to older adults, is happening to their teens' lives every day.
Domestic violence is often thought to be less serious in teens than it is among adults, but in some cases it is even worse.
Michiana teens Breanna Rouhselang and Tysiona Crawford both had their lives taken by domestic violence.
Breanna was killed by Aaron Trejo, whose confession to police has been obtained exclusively by ABC 57.
In Trejo’s confession, he describes his thought process and the point where things took a turn.
“She waited so long to tell me. To the point where she couldn’t get rid of it. I took action… by taking her life,” Trejo stated.
18-year-old Trejo is now behind bars for the next six decades for the murder of Rouhselang and their unborn child.
In this case, police believe the only reason Trejo killed Rouhselang is because of the pregnancy. But that is only one reason violence exists between teens in these relationships.
Experts say that jealousy is normally the largest reason for violence and murder.
In nearly 30% of cases, break ups and jealousy are the motives for murder.
8% are from reckless firearm use, 7% are from unwanted pregnancies, and 25% stem from arguments.
That’s what happened to 17-year-old South Bend teen Tysiona Crawford.
Her ex-boyfriend, Rahim Brumfield, shot and killed her after an argument in January of 2018.
Crawford’s two great aunts, Cynthia and Jaqueline, believe the night of her death changed everything for their family.
“She should be still be here today, going to college on her way to college, like she wanted to be. She was robbed,” Cynthia said.
Brumfield was found guilty in 2019 and is now serving 60 years behind bars for the murder of their daughter.
Korah Allen, a Dating Violence Prevention Specialist, says that stories like the two girls’ are unfortunately becoming increasingly common.
“I think it’s a huge problem. Especially now that teenagers have more access to technology and so much more access to each other really, it’s so much easier for that stuff to happen and so much more easier for it to slip through the cracks,” Allen said.
Allen spends part of her day talking directly to teens about dating violence to take action herself.
She covers signs of an abusive relationship and how teens can step in if they think someone is being abused.
A startling statistic shows that two out of three teenagers won’t tell anyone about abuse, and most teens are unaware they are in an abusive relationship.
Experts say the best way for parents to help teens in the community prevent dating violence, is by asking them questions and checking in on their relationships.
Tysiona’s family says they had no idea that the relationship she had was abusive.
“You have to have an open relationship with your kids, especially your daughters, so they won’t be trying to hide if somebody is abusing them,” said Jaqueline Bonds, Tysiona’s Great Aunt.
“Especially for teens, it’s important that they have a teacher, a guidance counselor a parent that they trust that they can talk to about that kind of stuff,” Korah Allen said.
If you or someone you love is experiencing domestic abuse, there are local organizations ready to help.
The YWCA and Family Justice Center in South Bend work to help anyone who may need help in an abusive relationship, regardless of age.
The YWCA can be contacted at (574) 233-9491 and found at 1102 South Fellows Street in South Bend.
Contact the Family Justice Center at (574) 234-6900 or visit them at 533 North Niles Avenue in South Bend.
The National Domestic Hotline can also be dialed at any time at 1-800-799-7233.