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“He lifted his leg up and kicked me in the stomach.

I flew across the room, hit my head on the wall and was knocked unconscious.” No one called an ambulance. Her legs were moving up and down and her chest was shaking.

According to a Harvard study of 4,163 public high school girls in 2001, nearly 1 in 5 reported physical or sexual abuse in a relationship.

“This is a major adolescent health issue,” says Jay Silverman, associate professor of society, human development and health, who directed the Harvard study.

One day in January 2005, Joe arrived at school drunk and threw Sarah against a locker.

“He started shaking me,” she says, “yelling that I would never be able to hide from him.

He told me he was going to beat the s— out of me.” Terrified and sobbing, Sarah escaped into a classroom and sought help from a teacher.

Joe got a two-day suspension from school, the school confirms, for drinking.

“They would say things like, ‘I know you are at practice right now, but I just wanted to be the first one to say hi,'” Sarah says.“As a parent you don’t know what to do,” says Kate, a workspace designer.“Here was this child who had always been bright; suddenly she doesn’t have the self-esteem to care about herself, her grades or her future.” She tried talking to Sarah, who angrily rejected her suggestion that Joe was a bad influence; she also sent Sarah to a therapist, who suggested Kate and Mark try to understand why they disapproved of their daughter’s choices.A partygoer later recounted the incident to police in a statement: “He kicked her as hard as he could with his right leg/foot. He [witness] said she did this for close to three hours.” When Sarah regained consciousness, Joe was standing nearby, still drinking.Getting to her feet, she made her way to a bathroom, locked herself in and called a male crew team member.

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