AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF) – According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in eight high school students
experiences dating violence.
Statistics show parents do not know about the abuse.
“She is in this ground! She will never come out of it! She is gone forever until we meet on the other side,” cries Loren Kitchens.
For 20 years, Kitchens and her daughter shared a close-knit relationship.
Now, Brenleigh can’t be reached.
She’s buried in a local cemetery.
Kitchens says her daughter’s life was shortened by someone she knew for a long time.
“I thought he was as cute as a button when I first met him. He was just as sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet as he could be. Just a little old thing,” she reflects.
She says Brenleigh met Jaden Ross in the eighth grade.
They started dating in high school.
The relationship continued for several years.
Kitchens explains, “three or four times they did that break up and the last time was the last time.”
That was two years ago.
Last April, Investigators say Jaden appeared at Brenleigh’s Hephzibah home.
She was video chatting with her best friend Shelby when Brenleigh heard a knock at the door.
“She told me, ‘I have a weird feeling that’s Jaden.’ I told her I was going to stay on the phone with her. She opened the door and immediately told him that he needed to leave. There was a lot of cursing.”
Shelby continues, “She was trying to get him out. She told him multiple times, ‘Jaden, I’ll call the cops.’ She was so scared that she grabbed a kitchen knife. There was a lot of yelling. Then I heard, ‘Jaden, you just pulled a gun on me.’ He was like, ‘You have a knife pulled on me.’ She said, ‘You’re in my house. I’m asking you to leave.’ Then, it was just bam, bam, bam. She hit the ground, and the call ended.”
Kitchens adds, “she’s a tough cookie. But, you can’t be tough against a gun. I guess that’s why cowards take guns I guess.”
The grieving mother says she wasn’t aware of Jaden physically hurting Brenleigh during their relationship.
But she says mentally he often had a tight hold on her.
“Every time he would go crazy and hit his head or be really mean to his little brother. Just guilt! She didn’t want him to hurt himself. She didn’t fear him whatsoever. He knew that. He knew she was not scared of him. But, she was scared of him hurting himself.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey and the National Intimate Partner
and Sexual Violence Survey, nearly one in 11 female and approximately one in 14 male high school students
experienced physical dating violence in the last year.
About one in 8 female and one in 26 male high school students experienced sexual dating violence in the last year.
Twenty Six percent of women and 15% of men who were victims of contact sexual violence, physical
violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime first experienced these or other forms ofviolence by that partner before the age of 18.
The Cumbee Center to Assist Abused Persons, Incorporated is working to decrease those numbers.
Executive Director Jessica Coach says they take their messages into the schools.
“We implement curriculums that are prevention based in hopes of preventing a behavior before it starts. So, during those times we get to have lots of conversations with teens who’ll say what we’re teaching in the curriculums it resonates with them,” she explains.
Although Brenleigh is gone, her memory, and her mother’s love live on.
Loren Kitchens says the pain hasn’t stopped, but, now it serves a purpose to help educate others.
“When you’re gone your gone. Everyone you leave behind. So, don’t stay in anything like that. If you feel awkward at all, if you feel like that didn’t feel right, go, get away whether you love them or not just run,” she concludes.
The Brighter Beginnings Organization shows the warning signs of teen dating violence include:
- Teen stops spending time with family/friends due to possessiveness/jealousy of the partner.
- Teen has unexplained bruises or marks on their body.
- Teen appears more depressed or anxious.
- Teen withdraws from participating in extracurricular activities or hobbies like sports or clubs.
- Your child begins to dress differently. For example, he or she wears loose clothing because the partner doesn’t like him/her to “show off” his/her body or attract someone else’s attention.
- Teen worries about not having their phone because their partner might get upset.
- Teen conveys fear about the way their partner would react to a certain situation.
For more information go to ncdsv.org, brighter-beginnings.org and cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimate
For help in the CSRA contact SafeHomes Domestic Violence Center on the 24-hr hotline 706-736-2499 or 1-800-799-SAFE.
Also, contact the Cumbee Center to Assist Abused Persons, Incorporated at 803-649-0480.