The Student News Site of East Lansing High School


The Student News Site of East Lansing High School


The Student News Site of East Lansing High School


A thin line

Teenagers often feel pressure to start dating and exploring intimacy as soon as they hit high school. Because of this, teens could get into damaging relationships and situations so they aren’t perceived as “lame” or “prudish.” If you find yourself in a situation like this, ELHS has professionals like the school social worker, Kristin Sesti, and behavioral health consultant Brett Stanaway.

According to Sesti, unhealthy relationships can manifest when one person consistently has more power or control over their partner.

“That can often lead to more textbook verbal abuse or emotional abuse,” Sesti said.

This power and control can be seen in many ways and doesn’t always happen immediately. It could be shown through simple acts like getting upset over people you hang around or getting obsessive about locations. 

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Stanaway, who started at ELHS in January, was hired to work with youth who are experiencing mental health concerns and behavioral issues. He said that unhealthy relationships can look like controlling behavior or trying to dictate where someone is and how they handle themselves.

“[Controlling partners dictate] how they present themselves, really just not accepting an individual for who they are and trying to make them something they’re not,” Stanaway said.

Sometimes, the abuse can be verbal, and not behavioral. According to Sesti, one phrase to look out for that might not cross your mind is “If you loved me you would…” Sesti said that phrases like these might not cause warning alarms at first, but later on, they could cause trouble.

“If you’re left with that feeling like this doesn’t feel great, then that’s time to talk to somebody,” Sesti said. 

Both Sesti (221) and Stanaway (223) have offices in the student services office and can talk to students by appointment if they feel that their relationship is potentially abusive.

Someone you can confide in doesn’t always have to be a licensed professional. It could be as simple as a parent or favorite teacher. There are always other resources like the website for any situation you don’t feel comfortable talking to an adult about.

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About the Contributor
Joelle King
Joelle King, Photography Editor
Joelle King is in the class of 2025 and is a Photography Editor for Portrait.  This is her second year on staff as a junior.  Joelle's favorite thing about journalism is telling stories through video. When she is not in the newsroom, Joelle loves competitive dancing and reading.

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