What Does a 13-Year Old Boy Know About DATING Violence?

Feb. 2013 update:  First and foremost, yesterday’s US Senate/VAWA vote overwhelmingly passed reauthorization and now moves on to the House of Representatives.

What IS the Violence Against Women Act, specifically? Here’s a comprehensive snapshot of content and history, from the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

In recapping these vast resources and Twitter handles at the end (in honor of 2013 Teen Dating Violence Awareness month) I’ll add that I’m also looking forward to a guest post update soon from Tornado Warning author Elin Waldal who has recently been featured on the biography channel telling her story to educate parents and teens on the all too familiar refrain, ‘why did she stay?’

I’m hoping to also interview Elin a bit to recap the pubic health, domestic violence/media handling of celebs reuniting too (the 2013 Grammys thankfully shifted away from the Grammys 2012 focus but the follow up reporting sadly, did NOT, and sent profoundly mixed messages to kids).

Meanwhile, for more 2013 updates…Sue Scheff just posted dating abuse resources (we’ll also be featuring the Circle of 6 prevention app soon) and she cited a study on StopBullying.gov which links peer to peer bullying in young males with domestic violence later in life.

Is Teen Dating Violence Awareness month on your parental radar at all? On Twitter follow the #TDVAM stream and understand the nuances…it’s not about ‘arguments’ now and then, it’s a distinct pattern that evolves as watch-worthy. Parents and peers, a ‘circle of six’ posse is smart prevention for getting out of ANY jam, not just unhealthy relationship focus. Stay tuned for more on other ways the app can be used productively and positively for public health and wellness.

Now back to the original article…What Does A 13-Year Old Boy Know About Dating Violence?

What Does A 13-Year Old Boy Know About Dating Violence?

May 9, 2010 Answer? Plenty. Particularly if his mom happens to be Elin Stebbins Waldal, author of “Tornado Warning” a memoir about Teen Dating Violence and its effect on a woman’s life.

Kodiak Waldal is Elin’s 13-year old son, and in a speech given to his middle school English class, and posted on Elin’s blog, I found myself so moved and awe-struck by the maturity of this young gent that I asked Elin if Kodiak would allow me to share his poignant words as both a Mother’s Day tribute and as a pre-emptive outreach to young boys coming of age in an all too often brash pop culture of misogynistic cues.

Mind you, any 8th grader that’s already this well-versed in the ‘too cool for school’ bravado and numbing antipathy of ‘packaging boyhood’ as we know it today is already a hero in my book of media literacy for men…but 13? Wow. I know men at 31 (and double that) who have yet to come close to this level of enlightenment.

So in the hope that Kodiak’s words will reach and teach pathways to non-violence from boys to men, while shining the spotlight on all too frequent media, marketing, and music messages that debase, devalue and objectify, I give you this well-researched English essay earning an A+ for humanity ascending. Take it a way, Kodiak…

Boy to Man; Finding Our Ultimate Purpose

by Kodiak Waldal

Based on a Department of Justice statistic, analysis conducted in the years 1976-2005, discovered that 64.8% of victims murdered by intimate partners were women. Some may say that this is because in most cases the male in the situation is stronger than the female; however, all one must do is obtain a lethal weapon such as a gun or knife and this person can kill the other person as they sleep.

The majority of people out there would like the world to be less violent, in order to achieve a culture that is non-violent I assert that the paradigm shift needs to begin with how we raise boys to men.

Let’s begin by looking at what it means to be a man from both a practical and mythological standpoint.

Mythological Man: Macho, tough, dominant, controlling, assertive, and powerful. Like a shark, our mythological man destructs whatever it can and believes it is just part of nature. In addition, some sharks eat their own young as the younger shark becomes an older and potential threat. A mythological man models for their children that the man of the house is in control beyond dispute.

In this household the man bases his entire existence on what he has power over it would not occur to him that a point of view that differs from his own is worthy of consideration. He rules the household with the mindset that crying is for sissies and boys need to be tough. Additionally he expects that anything domestic would be taken care of by the females in the family. In short, leave the real thinking to the man.

The Practical Man: Nurturing, loving, responsible, sensitive, listens, intelligent, protective, and hard-working. This man is a lion, peaceful, loving, and nurturing to its family and will do anything to protect its family. The practical man’s household is an example of collaboration between all family members. The man and woman as heads of the household are on equal ground and therefore the children live an example of give and take. The house is run more democratically and each person’s perspective is seen as valuable not threatening.

In order to truly achieve peace the world must see all people as worthy of basic human rights. Perhaps a country which embraces that all men are created equal will be the country that demonstrates the first steps toward non-violence. In addition we must understand that when Thomas Jefferson said, ‘MEN’ he implied ‘PEOPLE,’ meaning everyone. If we are born equal then one could reason that no person has the right to dominate another.

The mythological man resolves conflict through bullying and in some cases violence but really the conflict is not resolved it is snuffed out. The practical man seeks to understand another person’s point of view and looks to reach a peaceful solution that works for all members of the family.

The odds of being murdered are eighteen thousand to one, versus becoming a professional athlete which is twenty-two thousand to one. Sadly a person stands a better chance of being killed then achieving physical success. Moreover if you are a woman this statistic is even more daunting because more men achieve professional athletic status then women.

In society our practical man is a good husband, is one who practices fidelity, he also takes responsibility for the financial and emotional well being of his children, he views his relationship with his wife as a partnership and understands that time spent together is as, if not more, valuable as his earning power. In contrast the mythological man may, abuse his wife, view his career as all encompassing and more important than the emotional well being of his family, and may ultimately abandon his responsibilities to his wife and children.

My mother is a survivor of Teen Dating Violence and at the time of her victimization fear bound her to remain with her boyfriend.

Day after day my mother was led to believe that she would be killed if she were to attempt to break off the relationship all of which made her own purpose in life feel diminished. The individual who perpetrated the violence was weak; there is no way that anyone could call him a man.

Anyone can overpower something regardless of their size, for example, a boy who is raised with violence would be more apt to be cruel to a small animal which he can overpower then not, and later repeat the cycle of violence by turning into a man who abuses his own wife.

The issue at hand is choice; exercising mental strength and compassion over physical strength is a major component for being a practical man. In life a person can control one thing, what they do, and how they respond. In every situation a person controls their actions and reactions, influence yes, but never control.

The more we can breed a society of people, who seek to understand other points of views and hold themselves accountable for their behavior, the closer we will get to developing a culture that rejects violence as a means to resolve problems.

The human body, if nourished, will grow to its full potential; the mind however is only stretched as much as we allow it. A person is not grown up until they recognize their own humanity and truly understand their ultimate purpose. A life purpose is different for everyone; however what we share in common is a commitment to non-violence.

We must ask ourselves, why am I here?
We must ask ourselves, what is my ultimate purpose in life?
We must ask ourselves, do I want a good life for family and friends, or me?
We must ask ourselves, what can I do to change my surroundings and make the world a better place?

If we can find an answer that incorporates a non-violent solution we will live in a better place. If we can begin raising boys to be loving and mentally strong I surmise we will meet that goal. –Kodiak Waldal, Grade 8

Kodiak Waldal, 13, is an eighth grader attending a public Middle School. He plays lacrosse and soccer in his free time and is excited to play sports in High School beginning next year. “Some goals I have set for myself are to go to a good college and become a doctor, play college sports, and I hope by the time I have passed away that I have made a positive difference in the world.”

Amy’s note: Kodiak’s essay of what constitutes the ‘mythological man/practical man’ may not mirror your own, but he clearly speaks like a sage, introspective Yoda grappling with his own perceptions of manhood, life purpose and how he wants to walk through the world.

What do you think? Both Elin and Kodiak have asked to know…(and  yes, I’m curious too)

Are your sons and daughters drinking the pop culture KoolAid or are they centered and grounded in less sensational but more thoughtful, introspective approaches to who they are and what they’re aspiring toward?

Heady stuff, I realize, but on this Mother’s Day, I hold much hope and promise for the next generation of teens with heart.

P.S. For those who have asked, I met Elin Waldal through Twitter via The PixelProject.net dedicated to stopping violence against women using Web2.0/social media to “turbo-charge global awareness while raising $1 million for Malaysia’s Women’s Aid Organization and the USA’s National Coalition Against Domestic Violence by getting a global audience to collectively unveil a million-pixel mystery collage of Celebrity Male Role Models at $1 per pixel. Cool concept, eh?

I went on to follow the Twitter ‘hashtag’ VAW=Violence Against Women and began to collect quite an array of thought leaders sounding off on this topic, adding them as a subcategory in my post about “Women2Follow Dedicated to Inspiring Girls.”

Later I found out Elin was attending the AllyKatzz Tween Town Hall meeting in L.A. mid-March with her daughter Chandler (who I interviewed about HER experience there in a story to come about the ALLY awards and her inspiring epiphany meeting MC and mega- Actionist Jess Weiner) and ended up meeting face to face to deconstruct some of the marketing/research transpiring on the premises as well.

So in short, I didn’t ‘know’ Elin when I set out to write this blurb, but full disclosure,  she’s now on my short list of uber-cool, label-shunning passionistas with a purpose who amaze me with their grace and eloquence having ‘been through the fire’ of some harrowing and somber life lessons.

Here are just a few more from a handful of ‘tweeps’ I’m now connecting with on Twitter (yes, Lisa Ray, of Parents for Ethical Marketing, you are right, I dodged Twitter for naught, it really DOES have much to offer in building strong communities fast in a very important space…!)

Please feel free to add more in the comments below…Hard to keep track of all the info that’s out there, and people doing great work in this realm.

@ElinWaldal @a_thin_line @thelinecampaign @LoveisRespect@VAWnet @LoganLevkoff @Betty_Makoni @MCRisley @violatorstop @RLPShelterFdn @RevoltRealWomen @GlobalFundWomen @RosaForWomen @Asohan @staronline @womens_aid @CRASAC @scotwomensaid @MonsoonIOWA @MenCanStopRape @preventviolence @JLM_FGM @CALCASA @NYSCASA @unicef @UNIFEM @SinbySilence @taasa @NAADV @womensaid @el_karama @endDV @SafeWorld4Women @BreaktheCycleDV @MADECoalition @StepUp @SayNO_UNiTE @WhiteRibbon @ResponsibleMen @NCADV @abusesurvivors @NickKristof @barcc @bell_bajao @amnestyOz @amnestyUK @AaronCohen777 @Loveyou1st @CalVCP @SurvivorSpeaks @GEMSGIRLS

@LunaNewMoon@nancy_newmoon @LynMikel @hghw @Mommy_B @inside_beauty @RachelJSimmons @RosalindWiseman @girls_inc @Latinitas @JessWeiner @ShapingYouth @DrRobyn @DrCarla @ChicaCircle @GOTRI @girlsincnyc @GirlsRockHouse @traceesioux @JulesyParker @DrJenn @lizjmeyer @emilybartek @ShelbyKnox @girlscantwhat@PinkStinkUK @MsTwixt @Gis4Girl @GirlMogul @GirlWorldDaily @iTwixie @GirlsInc @jennpozner @girlsleadership @juliavtaylor @llangit @RevoltRealWomen @JuliaBarry @clairemysko @RespectRx @GreenGirlsG @JaneNation @Shathi @igirlpower @tandrusiak @iamthatgirl @teendoc @pigtailpals @smgrimes @ileducprof @TheGirlEffect @Betty_Makoni @Annie_Fox @kidlutions @drjohnduffy @TweenParent @jilldawsonmusic @TeenVoices @MegsinMaine @drdrrose @VAWnet @marjieknudsen @reelgrrls @feministcupcake @FreshwaterHaven @womenontheverge @WomenTalkSports @CoachnancyP @baatenosh @whattamisaid @lpgordon @KooDooZ @cbanks11 @DeeshaPhilyaw @pitchforthecure @shannonrosa @letterstomybody @DorothyHill @lisa_ray @truechild @commercialfree @AWayThrough @theteendoc @RealDealGirls @BeaconStMoms @BodiMojo @illusionists @nandellheim @empowher @PinkLockerMom @DeborahReber @sueblaney @DrDrRose @OwningPink @datingviolence @SuzannaNarducci @micheleborba @CatiCares @KissesFromDolce @DrRoniCS @josiefraser @AllyKatzz @feministing @JacquelineGreen @endfattalk @kathleenhassan @DrSportPsych @AAUW @DonnaAntoniadis @sheconomy @TheWomensFndtn @LisaCoxPresents @SueScheff@DowntownWoman@darachadwick @christytj @Media_Lad @MediaChoices @GlobalWomLead @yahuiwa @sisterhearts @girlfriendology @TheFamilyCoach @WomenCount @BreaktheCycleDV @TheNextWomen @shesgeeky @GirlsCircle @Fitarella @shannoncutts @VoiceinRecovery @twistedbarbie @kaneishnorthern @TuckerCenter @KTSTitleIX @kbster @mygiftedgirl @empowher @LADYDAY93 @GeekGirlCamp @clarinette02 @MomLounge @CBIF @HopscotchCo @thewip @wiredmoms @lalepin @GlobalFundWomen @WomenWhoTech @teacherileana @GirlsLeadNow @Dare2BDigital @Panopy @ChristineArylo @CherishAllWomen @chloepink @girlswritenow @sheismeprogram @veronicaeye @redclayscholar @fabdogooder @YWCHAC @STEMinist @KelsieMorales @MelindaRunkle @selfesteem @erinweed @girlsfightback @GirlFriendCeleb

Finally, this Mother’s Day, a big shoutout to ‘survivors’ of dating violence who now may have children of their own (that’s you, Elin!) as well as teens themselves who are struggling to learn about what constitutes a healthy relationship and boundaries from the get go…

Here are a few more stellar resources to help guide your way.

Break the Cycle

Love Is Respect


Bom411.com: Boss of Me

A Thin Line.org-MTV’s Over the Line (digital abuse/teen control)

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

See It and Stop It! Organization

Do Something Organization

LiveStrong: Teen Dating Violence

Love is Not Abuse.com (Liz Claiborne campaign)

APA: Teens/Love Doesn’t Have to Hurt (pdf)

HelpGuide.org: Cycle of abuse/DV; cause-effect

HSUS/Animal abuse & corollary w/domestic violence

Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness

From Elin Waldal for Teens

“If you or someone you know is involved in an abusive relationship there are numerous resources available to get help now…

…”I remember all too well how alone I felt trapped inside my relationship. I was very afraid to share my situation with anyone, even my parents, siblings, and most trusted friends. Everyone has the right to live a life free from violence, and reaching out for help is the first step toward living the life you deserve. —author Elin Waldal, Tornado Warning”

National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline: 1-866-331-9474

Elin’s memoir is due out in July 2010 or thereabouts, described as,

…A candid portrait of the effects of teen dating violence. Tornado Warning shares with the reader the subtle erosion of self that occurs in an abusive relationship. Woven into my reflections of my life decades later are the excerpts from my journal. I explore with a backward glance the well-worn path I have traveled, from strong teenage girl turned victim to victim turned survivor, survivor turned mother, mother turned advocate. I am a woman with a passion to go beyond surviving, to make our world a safer place for girls and women everywhere.”

Thanks to both Elin and her son Kodiak, for sharing their special stories this Mother’s Day.



  1. I believe I know the boy in the photo. He was one of my closest friends. I thought I knew him but maybe I don’t now. My friend said this was him but it doesn’t make any sense because he said he was 13 and lives in Australia, but the boy pictured is an adult now and that just doesn’t make any sense. If anyone can help me please do because Im very confused and could use some help. Thank you.

  2. Hmn. Not sure where you’re getting anything about him living in Australia…it says nothing about that in the article…He was 13 and in the U.S. at the time…

Speak Your Mind