Meet Connor, Age 17*

*As a means to protect privacy, Connor’s story is a composite.

In a small town outside of Toronto, lived a 17-year-old boy named Connor. He was charismatic, with an easy smile that could light up a room. Yet, beneath his charm, lurked a troubling pattern that mirrored his father’s behaviour. Having grown up witnessing his father’s angry outbursts and aggressive actions towards his mother, Connor found himself repeating this same pattern with his girlfriend.

Connor’s upbringing wasn’t the only factor influencing his behaviour. He lived in a neighbourhood known for its challenges, where survival often meant adopting a tough exterior. He had a friend named Jake, a boy who was well-liked by some for his charm and confidence, but who treated his girlfriend poorly. Jake’s behaviour often made Connor question what constituted a healthy relationship, blurring the lines between love, control, and dominance.

Connor was dating Brittney, a complex and dynamic young woman. Brittney is an empathic person who always wants to see the good in others and support them in making positive changes in their lives.

As the months went by, Connor’s temper grew more volatile. He found it increasingly difficult to quell the urge to raise his voice and dominate Brittney in arguments. He wanted to break the cycle, but he felt like a prisoner of his own upbringing. The pain of his past gripped him tightly, making it challenging to resist the pull of anger that had been etched into his psyche.

One day, as Connor sat in his high school’s cafeteria, he overheard a conversation between two classmates. They were talking about a presentation they went to in the gym about youth dating violence and a free local program that offers individual counselling.  Intrigued, he discreetly listened to their conversation, learning that the program was designed to help young people navigate and break free from unhealthy relationship patterns.

Curiosity piqued, Connor decided to reach out to his school counsellor and inquire about the program. After a series of confidential conversations, the counsellor informed him that the program focused on providing support to youth to develop skills and tools to build a future free from violence. The counsellor said it was a safe space for teens like Connor who were struggling with their own patterns of dating violence due to the influence of their upbringing.

With a mixture of hope and apprehension, Connor joined the program. Through one-on-one counselling sessions, Connor began to unravel the tangled emotions that had fueled his jealousy and anger. The program not only taught Connor practical skills for managing his emotions but also provided a platform for him to explore the roots of his behavior. With guidance from Clinical Therapists, he delved into the trauma of his childhood, examining how his father’s actions had shaped his own perception of relationships. Through this process, he gained a deeper understanding of his triggers and began to forge a new path toward healthier interactions.

Over time, Connor’s behaviour began to change. The jealousy that had once consumed him faded, replaced by trust and empathy. He learned to pause, reflect, and respond rather than react impulsively. The Youth Dating Violence Intensive Intervention Program had given him the tools he needed to rewrite his story, to break free from the cycle that had haunted his family for generations.

Through Public Safety Canada, Radius’ Youth Dating Violence Program has been helping young people for almost 5 years. As the funding for this program draws to a close in 2024, we are busy exploring opportunities for ongoing and sustainable funding. To learn more about the YDV program, please visit: