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Recognize, take control of teenage domestic abuse, speaker tells Penta students

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Johanna Orozco talked to Penta Career Center students about her domestic-abuse relationship she had as a teenager.

The Blade/Matt Thompson
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Senior student Miah Abdo sat in the Penta Career Center auditorium on Wednesday and was uplifted hearing about how someone else got through domestic abuse as a teenager.

Johanna Orozco spoke about when she was raped at knifepoint, punched, kicked, verbally abused, and eventually shot in the face by her ex-boyfriend in 2007 when she was a high school senior. Now happily married, with a young son, she is going to schools to try to help tell students the signs of teenage domestic abuse and ways to get help.

"It was amazing," the young Abdo said about Ms. Orozco's presentation. "When you are going through it, you don't feel like anyone else knows how you feel.

"It was very uplifting and encouraging."

Ms. Orozco has shared her experience on 20/20, with Oprah Winfrey, on the The View with Vice President Joe Biden. She was awarded as a Champion of Change by President Barack Obama. She helped change two laws in Ohio that provide for protection orders for teens and schools are mandated to teach teenage domestic abuse in health classes.

"I honestly think that would have helped me," she said during her speech.

Ms. Orozco used to speak to teenage groups daily, but now, after becoming a mother, she does it a few a month. Her speech was sponsored by the Wood County Educational Service Center. She encourages teenagers to contact Rebecca Park, who has "expect respect" support groups for the center.

The young Abdo, of Lake Schools, said she had been in an abusive relationship for a year and a half before coming to Penta. Getting the facts about abusive relationships, she said, "It opened my eyes."

She and two seniors did a project on teenage domestic abuse in their early-childhood education program. Bailey Birch of Northwood said the signs of domestic abuse and facts presented by Ms. Orozco were nearly identical to what they found in their research.

And although Ms. Orozco talked about help on some Web sites, the young Birch talked about a phone number teenagers can text and talk to about the abuse to get help. The Web sites are www.loveisnotabuse.com, www.breakthecycle.org, and www.loveisrespect.org

"If I can change at least one person's life, that is my goal," Ms. Orozco said after the speech.

Contact Matt Thompson at: mthompson@theblade.com, 419-356-8786, or on Twitter at @mthompson25.

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