Once-Abusive Teen Turns His Life Around

"20/20" first aired this story on teen violence on April 5, 2005. Since then we've followed Chris Cummings' path and bring you updates on how he's doing now.

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Twenty-two-year-old Chris Cummings knows how a cycle of abuse can poison a relationship. Cummings said he had a deep-seated insecurity as a teenager during a three-year relationship. But Cummings, unlike Marcus McTear who was featured in "20/20's" report on abusive relationships (See Related Story), was strong enough to confront his problem and seek help.

What was it that finally caused Chris Cummings to get help? Remarkably, Chris himself realized he needed help. He says, "I wanted help and I wanted change and I wanted to get better. I wasn't happy with the way things are going. Wasn't happy with the things I was doing because I knew they weren't right deep down. I didn't want turn out as an adult like that. I said, 'Mom I need to get some help for my problems before I make it someone else's problem or I'm dead or end up in jail.' "

Jan Cummings, Chris' mother, says her son had been in and out of counseling for years but this time was different. "It was a relief, a really huge relief because he fought going to counseling you know through many of the years. But when it was his idea you know I was really hopeful that it would really help him."

Chris did find help with the Adolescent Domestic Abuse Program (ADAP) -- a unique program at Family & Children Services in Minneapolis, Minn., that helps boys 13-17 years old who have been physically aggressive toward a girlfriend, parent or sibling.

Chris says ADAP helped teach him strategies for dealing with his anger. Now, he says "I just take five and I'll just walk away and talk in a nice way because I realize yelling and stuff doesn't get you anywhere."

Chris said he agreed to share his story "to show other people that there are people like me out there and show people that you can change if you want to change. I've been there, done that and if I can change anyone out there can change but you have to want to change."

Now Chris wants to work one-on-one with troubled teens and has started classes to become a youth counselor.

Chris' mother, Jan, said she is proud of Chris and hopes her family's experience can help others.

"I was really proud of him and I still am proud of him -- to see him take the step, you know, admit that he had a problem." She hopes other parents will learn from their experience and emphasizes that you should never give up on your kids.

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