"20/20" reported a disturbing story on teen-dating violence, April 5, 2005. The story was so powerful we wanted to air it again with updates. Here you'll see the positive reaction of one mother to a devastating event.
Marcus McTear was a star running back at Reagan High School in Austin, Texas. At 16, he was bright and popular and dreamed of college until a spring day in March 2003. The popular athlete stabbed his girlfriend, Ortralla Mosley, to death in a school hallway after she tried to break up with him.
What had gone wrong? How did a boy with such pent-up rage escape the attention of parents and adults? As it turns out, Marcus had a history of teen dating violence a few years before, when he was dating an eighth-grade classmate named Rae Anne Spence.
Rae Anne said everything about Marcus appealed to her. "He was very, very sweet to me. We talked to like 3 o'clock in the morning every school night," she said.
At first, Rae Anne seemed happy. She was a cheerleader and her athletic boyfriend poured on the affection with flowers, love notes and constant adoration. Then the sweet relationship took a turn. She said Marcus began telling her what to do, what to wear and demanding that she not attract other boys' attention.
"I couldn't show a lot of skin. And with the makeup, if I would wear it, like, even a little bit, he would get mad," Rae Anne said.
Marcus was Rae Anne's first boyfriend, and she said she didn't know if this was unusual behavior.
But Rae Anne's mother, Elaine, soon noticed her bubbly daughter was becoming withdrawn and less confident. "I watched her go from being this vibrant beautiful girl to a person who never wanted to put on makeup, who worried about everything that she wore to not being able to be herself," she said.
The controlling behavior Rae Anne was experiencing is a sign that emotional abuse may escalate, experts warn.
"A girl always has to be aware that if he can annihilate you emotionally and verbally, slice and dice you, you can't be sure that he's never going to lay a hand on you," said Jill Murray, a psychologist and author of "But I Love Him: Protecting Your Teen Daughter from Controlling, Abusive Dating Relationships."
Murray says the pattern of abuse in teen dating violence is the same as that in adult domestic violence. For Rae Anne and Marcus, one minute there were tender kisses; the next, angry threats. Rae Anne says the first hint it was escalating to physical abuse came one day at school.
"I was standing with like a group of girls. And, like, he came up to me, and, like, I wanted him to stay with me and not go with his brother, and I just remember him turning around and punching me in my arm," Rae Anne said. "I just stood there, like, and I tried to pretend it didn't happen."
But Rae Anne kept her fears secret from almost everybody. One of the scariest moments, she says, happened during an argument between classes when she grabbed Marcus' backpack.
"When I got to the top of the stairs, he got behind me, and like grabbed me by my arm and like twirled me around, and told me to never touch him like that again. And he pushed me down the stairs," she said.