Graduate student starts 'Love Doesn't Shove' campaign to help those in abusive relationships

Gabriella Kreuz wants to give back to the people and organizations that helped her after her time in a violent relationship, and help others in similar situations.

It was 5 a.m. on Dec. 3, 2011. Gabriella Kreuz and her boyfriend were arguing again, and once again, he became physical. This was not the first time that her boyfriend physically harassed her. But this time, someone heard the argument and called the police. As a result, her boyfriend was kicked off the campus and given a restraining order.

Photo: Manmeet Sahni
Upon leaving her abusive relationship, Kreuz was supported by her friends and family and learned to regain her strength by attending support groups.

Kreuz, a graduate broadcast and digital journalism student at Syracuse University, was a sophomore at John Caroll University near Cleveland when the incident took place. Her boyfriend was not a student there, but lived close enough to visit Kreuz often. Kreuz kept justifying her boyfriend's actions until that night when someone decided to call police. Two years later, after support from family and friends and attending a support group, Kreuz started her Love Doesn't Shove campaign. The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness for issues related to teen dating violence and to raise money to help with the cause.

“Being a few years removed, I am a lot more poised now, talking about it," Kreuz said. "That's why I feel I’d like to reach out to people who might be in similar situations." 

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, adolescent dating violence (ADV) is a significant public health problem, with girls between the ages of 16 and 24 experiencing the highest rate of intimate partner violence.

“We were high school sweethearts," Kreuz said. "I first met him at the Saint Edward-Saint Ignatius big rival basketball game senior year of high school. I was on cloud nine at the time."

When Kreuz started college, adjusting to the new environment became even more challenging.

“I think he really started to get jealous of me being in college, in a coed atmosphere and me being outgoing. He was always arguing and interrogating me over silly things,” she said.

Kreuz said he began manipulating her, telling her that she needed to give him the passwords to her Facebook and email accounts if she really cared about him. Kreuz was justifying his actions because of the way he kept twisting her words back to her. Psychological dating abuse is the most common type of dating abuse reported among teens.

According to the National Institute of Justice, among surveyed teens who dated in the last year in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, 47.2 percent experienced psychological dating abuse, 29.9 percent reported physical dating violence and cyber dating abuse came a close third with 26.3 percent of teens reporting it, while 13 percent reported sexual coercion.

“I genuinely did not think that I’d ever feel the way I feel now. I thought that my life was over," Kreuz said. "The hardest part was to hear people say that he was not going to change, especially from a professional, who backed up their argument with the research."

Kreuz’s family and friends helped her heal. She believes that her family’s insistence on not going back to him and maintaining safety was a blessing, but something she did not understand at the time.

Kreuz said that she finally gained an understanding of her experience and was able to stop blaming herself after attending an anonymous support group run by the Cleveland Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center that her university recommended.

“I felt for the first time that I wasn't insane. I was listening to women around me talk about similar situations I was in," she said. "I wasn't wrong the whole time, because he made me feel that I was wrong and it was always my fault. That was a lot of healing for me even if I went to just support people and didn't talk much."

Teen Dating Violence and Awareness Month, held in February and started by the organization Break the Cycle, is now in its fifth year.

Kreuz wants to give back to the organization that helped her through one of the lowest moments of her life. She donated $600 last year through her "Love Doesn't Shove" campaign to the Cleveland Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center. This year, she has added Vera House to the list of programs to donate to through money raised selling orange wristbands that say, "Love doesn't shove." Currently, she has a GoFundMe account where people can donate money to help fund her cause.


National Dating Abuse Helpline: “Love is Respect”. Through the website, you can ask confidential questions, verify legal rights and find support.

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