“You could tell she had been crying,” recalls the friend, Brian Knott.
“It became kind of a joke—that she was too busy with school and crew.” Sarah kept her doubts to herself. “I think it has to do with being in one of the first relationships of your life. It made me feel loved.” But her parents, Kate and Mark, a computer software salesman, were worried.
You don’t really know where to draw the line.” And then there was Joe himself, who followed up his outbursts with fervent apologies and tokens of love, usually bouquets of roses. Sarah, who had maintained a B average, started getting C’s and D’s, and her friends weren’t coming by anymore.
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.
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.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.Something she said—to this day she doesn’t know what—enraged him.“He snapped,” Sarah says, still wincing at the memory.Initially flattered, Sarah gradually grew uneasy with Joe’s possessiveness.