Teens need to learn early about the signs of abusive relationships

May 19, 2022, 6:34 PM | Updated: 8:30 pm

SALT LAKE CITY  — A shooting in Springville on Wednesday made it tragically clear that violence in a relationship can happen to anyone, including teenagers. Police said Masao Kaanga, 20, mortally wounded 17-year-old Lily Conroy after an apparent breakup, then turned the gun on himself.

Advocates said it’s important for young people to start learning about good and bad relationships early. It’s important that the community lets our young ones know that they can always get help.

It’s tough for any of us to see a relationship end in tragedy.

“This is one of those outcomes that you never hope to see,” said Jennifer Campbell, executive director of the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition. “I fee for anyone who has to go through this.”

She said the Springville tragedy highlighted the need to teach prevention early.

“Violence can impact anyone anywhere. It doesn’t have to be in a home. It can be in any form of relationship where that power dynamic can come into play,” Campbell said.

Jennifer Campbell, executive director of the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition (KSL TV)

The Utah Department of Health looked into some of those dynamics in a 2019 study and found that about one-third of our youth report having been in an unhealthy dating relationship.

More than a quarter said they’ve been verbally or emotionally harmed while one in eleven say they’ve been forced to do something sexual.

Campbell said, “And so when we begin to see some of those unhealthy pieces, not always do kids and teens know how to recognize that as being potentially violent.”

It’s why Campbell said we have to have those talks, even with our children. “How many times are they texting you? Is there anything where you feel like maybe this is too much or am I feeling uncomfortable with that attention?”

Abusers may also use isolation as a tool. It’s important our loved ones know they can always get help.

“Some of the struggles that I see with survivors and accessing services is that fear of being judged and that fear of being viewed as ‘well because you did this, this is the outcome,’” she explained.

Utah has many resources but Cambell said she would like to see more funding for programs focused on educating youth.


If you know someone who is going through abuse, the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition operates a confidential statewide, 24-hour domestic abuse hotline at 1-800-897-LINK (5465).

Resources are also available online at the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition website.

You can also contact the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

If you have experienced sexual violence, you can access help and resources by calling Utah’s 24-hour Sexual Violence Helpline at 1-888-421-1100. You can also call the Rape Recovery Center Crisis Line at 801-467-7273 or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 for free, confidential counseling.

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Teens need to learn early about the signs of abusive relationships