TRUE LOVE…OR TRULY DANGEROUS? BY AMY FELLNER DOMINY
“So how did you two end up together?”
It’s a favorite question of mine when I get to know a new couple. Maybe it’s the romantic in me or maybe it’s the writer, but I love to hear the stories.
My best friend set us up—she said we were both so impossible we would be perfect together.
We were both working fast food together, and even in a brown polyester uniform and smelling of grease, he made my heart skip.
He said if I didn’t marry him, he’d kill himself. And I believed him.
That last response I heard from a friend over twenty years ago. She wasn’t kidding. She wasn’t being silly or playful or ironic. It was simply the truth, and I’ve never forgotten it.
How does something like that happen? How does a beautiful, bright, kind woman allow that to happen?
Except…maybe I could understand more than I liked to admit. I was in love with love as a teen. If a guy told me he would die without me, I would have been over-the-moon happy. How romantic! After all—one of our culture’s most celebrated love stories is Romeo & Juliet, the story of two young adults (Juliet is thirteen!) who end up killing themselves for love.
Then I grew up. I had teenagers of my own. And when I saw stories about teens killing themselves over breakups…or teens in love carrying out murder-suicide pacts, it wasn’t romantic. It was heartbreaking.
So I wanted to learn more. I wanted to figure out the why and the how.
That’s how Die for You began.
In my search for answers, here’s what I learned:
1/3 of high school students have been or will be involved in an abusive relationship (sexually, emotionally/verbally, and or physically). (www.womenhelpingwomen.org)
Many teens in unhealthy relationships don’t report it and many aren’t even sure they’re in a bad relationship. Why? Because many think abuse means physical violence. They don’t know abuse can be emotional and they certainly don’t know it can be every bit as deadly.
If only you loved me enough, you’d______
You don’t trust me or else you’d_______
I’d do anything for you, why won’t you______
If you leave, I’ll kill myself.
So I wanted to write a story that would shine a light on emotional abuse. In Die For You, two teens, Emma and Dillon, are deeply in love until circumstances threaten to separate them. When Dillon threatens his own life to keep Emma by his side what will she do? Who will she save…Dillon or herself?
While abuse is a theme in this story, ultimately, it’s about love. Love for ourselves.
I want my daughter and my son—I want all of our daughters and sons—to know that while it’s important to care for those we love, it’s important to care for ourselves, too. That if someone asks us to give up who we are, what we want and how we feel—that’s not healthy.
As part of my book launch, I’m creating bookmarks with a link to a quiz about healthy relationships. I hope that for teens at risk, it might get them thinking, or maybe validate the things they’re feeling. If you’d like a pack of 25 for your classroom/library, please reply here with your information or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amy Fellner Dominy is the author of Die for You, A Matter of Heart, Audition & Subtraction, OyMG and the upcoming picture book Cookiesaurus Rex (Disney, 2017.) Amy loves hiking, tennis, ornery cats and non-drooling dogs. Visit Amy at www.amydominy.com.