WNYC’s Radio Rookies Presents “CRUSHED: Teens and Dating Abuse”

WNYC’s Radio Rookies presents “CRUSHED: Teens and Dating Abuse”

Three First Person Audio Stories by Young Women Intimately Affected by Dating Abuse

Stories and Other Topical Segments to Air on WNYC and available at wnyc.org/crushed

A Harrowing Audio Diary from the Inside of an Abusive Relationship, To Also Air Nationally on “This American Life” during the weekend of September 19 and 20

“This is one of the best radio stories I’ve ever heard. Just really, really, special.” — Ira Glass

(September 17, 2015 — New York, NY) — Glowing prom pictures, silly memes, and flattering selfies fill the social media feeds of most teenagers. But what these carefully curated social personas belie is that in the real world, young women between the ages of 16-24 are more likely to suffer violence in a relationship than any other demographic in the country. One in ten teenagers report experiencing violence in their romantic relationships in the last year, and one in three say that they have been verbally, emotionally, sexually or physically abused by a dating partner.

Beginning today, Radio Rookies, WNYC’s Peabody Award-winning youth media program, presents “CRUSHED: Teens and Dating Violence,” audio stories that give rare and intimate insight into this largely unknown phenomenon by three young women who have been profoundly affected by abusive relationships. “CRUSHED” reveals how silence, power, and control are dynamics that can permeate relationships even when the partners do not live together, how such relationships can affect everything from self-esteem to friendships to school performance, and how parents and guardians rarely know how to talk about the distinction between healthy and abusive relationships. 

All “CRUSHED” stories are available at wnyc.org/crushed and full descriptions are below.

“Why Do I Stay?” a first-person audio diary spanning two years that documents Rainy's process of separating, reuniting, and separating again from her older, abusive boyfriend, will air nationally on the acclaimed public radio show and top I-tunes podcast “This American Life,” over the weekend of September 19 and 20. 


“Why Do I Stay?”

On Rainy’s high school ID card, she has a black eye. When her guidance counselor inquired, Rainy told her "it's a long story, you'll get to know me."  “Why Do I Stay?” is that long – and painful -- story.

Rainy met “Tony” when she was 14 and he was 21. At first he was sweet: he didn’t try to kiss her on their first date.  But his behavior very quickly changed. Tony became verbally abusive, Rainy stopped going to school, stopped spending time with her friends and her mom. By the time Tony became physically abusive, Rainy was isolated from everyone who could have helped her.

Rainy started reporting her story in 2013, when she and Tony had been broken up for 5 months. As the piece progressed, she got back together with him, and quickly disappeared. But on the rare occasions she went to school, Rainy kept recording the diary of her experience, as confused as anyone as to why she felt compelled to stay.  She ultimately did leave him, and her piece is a rare glimpse inside the confines of an abusive relationship and the intense effort it takes to get out.

“We Just Don't Talk: One Family's Silence About  Dating Abuse “

Figuring out how to help someone in an abusive relationship can be scary and, at times, even frustrating. Mari Santos’s older sister Alison always went out with the same type of guys: controlling, possessive and self-centered. Mari just figured that when you’re in a relationship, you cry, argue and break up every few weeks. Then Mari joined Relationship Abuse Prevention Program, a school-based peer education group run by the city. The more she learned, Mari realized her sister was actually in an abusive relationship and Mari stopped feeling so frustrated and started to worry. She’s afraid to actually speak with her sister about her concerns, but winds up having their first open and honest conversation about it on tape.

“Seeking an End to Cycles of Abuse” 

Destiny Mabry was one of the one in three New York City teens who report being verbally and emotionally abused by a romantic partner. The abuse left her depressed and, by the time she was in her early 20s, she was in counseling to heal from the relationship. Then, in January 2014, Destiny’s older sister Kia and her 1 and 3 year old niece and nephew were murdered by her brother-in-law. In her story, Destiny interviews her mother and her grandmother as she seeks to understand the cycles of abuse that go, “as far back as we can call it.” Destiny considers speaking out about abuse an important part of her healing.


"Dating violence – like all domestic violence – thrives on silence, secrecy, and shame,” said Kaari Pitkin, Executive Producer, Radio Rookies. “And these stories courageously break all three in a significantly public way – including airing as part of one of the most listened to podcasts in the country. I’m so proud of Rainy, Destiny and Mari for being willing to share their experiences and potentially help other young people in similar situations, as well as parents and educators. We all hope listeners will be moved, enlightened, and motivated.”

To produce the series, Radio Rookies partnered with the organization Day One, a nonprofit that provides services and education about intimate partner violence and teenagers.

“Day One is honored to partner with WNYC and the Radio Rookies by contributing our expertise in preventing and addressing dating abuse among young people,” said Stephanie Nilva, Executive Director, Day One. “Awareness increases reporting, increased reporting leads to more young people getting help, so we are gratified to see this special series give voice to a vastly underreported issue. We are so proud of these young survivors for courageously telling their stories and offering hope to others in the same situation.”



Radio Rookies will offer additional features to help illuminate the pressing issue of teen dating abuse and take listeners behind the scenes.

On Thursday, September 17, Michelle Paolella, Program Director and Social Worker at Day One, and Rookie Destiny Mabry, who has become an advocate on the issue, will appear on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show to discuss how parents can spot the signs of teen dating abuse and help prepare their kids for healthy relationships.

Destiny Mabry will also conduct a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” for teens, parents, and educators during the week of September 21 (exact date TBD).

In a “Reporter’s Notebook,” producers offer a look into the journalistic process of working with victims of abuse. Radio Rookies will also publish a probing essay from a young woman who went from being a victim of child abuse to someone who verbally and physically abused her high school boyfriend.

All “CRUSHED” stories and additional features are available at: wnyc.org/crushed.



Radio Rookies, WNYC’s Peabody Award-winning youth media outreach program, gives young people from primarily under-resourced neighborhoods the training and tools they need to produce short audio documentaries exploring important themes from their lives, their communities, and their city. Radio Rookies conducts intensive workshops where young people learn each stage of the radio production process from conducting interviews and recording audio to writing narrations and editing. Radio Rookies is produced by WNYC, and is supported by the Axe-Houghton Foundation, the Bay and Paul Foundations, the Fred L. Emerson Foundation, the Hive Digital Media Learning Fund in the New York Community Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts, Margaret Neubart Foundation, Newman’s Own Foundation, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council on the Arts, the Pinkerton Foundation, the Smart Family Foundation, the W. Clement & Jessie V. Stone Foundation, and Time Warner Cable.


From its state-of-the-art studios in New York City, WNYC is reshaping audio for a new generation of listeners with groundbreaking, innovative radio programs and podcasts including Radiolab, Freakonomics Radio, On the Media, Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin, Death, Sex & Money and Note to Self among others. With an urban vibrancy and a global perspective, WNYC is America's most listened-to public radio station and the home to an award-winning newsroom of 65 journalists.


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