Talking to teens about dating violence
It’s been almost four years since Butch and Cindy Moore lost their daughter Bree, who died at the hands of an abusive boyfriend. She was only 20-years-old.
Tears still flow when Cindy talks about her daughter, but she brushes them back and continues to talk about how important it is for teens to recognize abuse.
“They never have to put up with controlling, abusive behaviors by dating partners,” Moore says. “It’s never acceptable, and they can talk to their parents.”
But Bree never did tell her parents that her boyfriend, Josh Almeda, gave her black eyes or punched her in the head. After Bree’s death, police returned her cell phone to her parents, and they saw messages between the two, in which Bree complained about Josh’s violent behavior.
Her father told a gathering of students at Steller High School that, after Bree’s death, her friends told him they saw signs of abuse but didn’t intervene because they feared Bree would get angry with them.
Butch Moore says he doesn’t blame Bree or her friends for not reaching out.
“Part of it is, Bree didn’t know what to do. And her friends didn’t know what to do,” Moore said.
So Moore’s mission now is to help teens find help when they need it.
They’re distributing a poster with Bree’s picture, along with information about how to get confidential help, 24 hours a day, through loveisrespect.org.
The Moores are also pushing to re-name a section of a bill the legislature passed last year, Bree’s Law. It requires schools to provide programs to raise awareness about teen dating violence.
Rachel Curtiss, a senior at Steller, believes it’s important to have a name attached to the legislation.
“We can think this was a human being, who had a family and friends – and was murdered because of an abusive partner,” Curtiss said. “That hits you in a different spot than a nameless figure.”
“My heart goes out to Bree’s family,” said Ben Post, a sophomore at Steller, after hearing the Moores tell their story. “I felt it was relevant to me, because of my age.”
Bree’s mother told the crowd that Josh Almeda was 22 when he shot and killed Bree.
“So young. Not much older than you guys are right now,” she said. “And he’ll spend the rest of his life in prison for what he did.”
The Moores told the students, even if you’re not a victim of violence, it’s important to know the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships, so they can help a friend.
“The person in the relationship that’s being abused in most cases can’t help themselves, just like someone who needs CPR,” Butch Moore said.
Bree’s Law unanimously passed the House on Valentine’s Day and will be taken up in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday. The public is invited to testify.
The Moores say they’ve learned a lot since their daughter died and hope to spare other parents their painful lessons. Hear more of their story this Sunday on KTVA’s Frontiers program, as well as from other experts, who say efforts to prevent teen dating violence are already making a difference.
“Teen Dating Violence: Bree’s Story” airs on Sunday, Feb. 25 at 4:30 and 10:30 p.m. on KTVA-Channel 11.