October 25, 2013

Breakup Violence


Tracy Smith: Craig, today we are going to pick up Lynn Kenny’s story where we left off yesterday. It was Christmas Eve two years ago, and Lynn and her boyfriend Gary ended up in the parking lot of a local pool hall where he started to hit her.

Scott: Now, that was a clip from Channel One News back in the 90s. And joining us after those years is Tracey Smith, CBS Sunday Morning correspondent and former Channel One News anchor. So, welcome back and it is good to have you.

Tracy: Thanks, Scott. It is great to be here, and we are actually talking about something that I covered on Channel One back in the day.

Scott: It is for teen violence in relationships, right?

Tracy: That is right. There is actually something specifically called ‘breakup violence.’ And what it is is when a relationship ends, there can be a surge of uncontrollable emotional anger. And it can result in verbal or physical abuse. In the case of one Massachusetts teen, it escalated way beyond that.

It seemed like they had the perfect relationship.

Chloe Jacques: They were both very attractive. They seemed like the ideal couple.

Tracy: He was a star wide receiver on the Wayland High School football team. She was a beautiful girl with a big voice and an even bigger heart.

You went to New Orleans with her?

Hannah Blahut: Yeah, we went to help rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

Tracy: But behind closed doors, Nathaniel Fujita and Lauren Astley’s relationship was a constant roller coaster.

Mary Dunne: They started getting chronically into fights, then it would be back together, broken up, back together, broken up.

Tracy: Until finally, in the spring of their senior year, on her 18th birthday, Lauren broke it off with him for good.

Malcolm Astley: I think with the – what was the final break up – she felt some relief. Life was somehow opening up.

Tracy: But Nathaniel was devastated. And that was when his friends and family began to notice a change.

George Mattingly: He had gone from a kid who was always on the move, always working out, to a kid who was basically at home lying on the couch looking miserable.

Tracy: And when he showed up to Lauren’s big graduation party, things only escalated.

Dunne: She came to me crying and said, ‘He will not leave me alone. He’s harassing me. He doesn’t want me to dance with anybody.’

Tracy: Nathaniel was asked to leave.

Worried about her son’s health, Nathaniel’s mother took him to see a psychiatrist. His diagnosis?

Bill Sullivan: Major clinical depression. Not just that you’re feeling down, but this was a major depressive episode.

Tracy: The psychiatrist suggested anti-depression medication and therapy but Nathaniel refused. His mother also reached out to Lauren for help.

Chloe: Nate’s mom came and visited Lauren at work and asked if it would be a good idea if she reached out to him and talked to him and kind of saw what was going on.

Tracy: And so she did. On the afternoon of July 3rd, 2011, she drove to his house. And that was the last time anybody saw Lauren Astley alive. Her body was found the next day in a nearby marsh. She had been strangled. Her throat slashed. Investigators found enough evidence to arrest Nathaniel and charge him with first-degree murder.

Astley: Yes, it is terribly painful to have someone break up with you. It is one of the worst pains in life, but normal and not to be taken as failure or as a cause for violence.

Tracy: Family and friends of Lauren are now using her tragic story as a way to bring awareness to the growing problem of dating and breakup violence.

Dunne: In all of our talking that we did about boys and drinking and drugs and driving, I’d never even heard that term before – breakup violence.

Tracy: And social media adds enormous pressure. The digital footprint that every young person lives with makes breaking up harder – sometimes humiliating. It is a recipe for disaster.

Gerry Leone: The loss, the breakup. It’s tweeted, it’s texted about, it’s Facebooked. Everybody’s electronically communicating about it. And what it tends to do is exacerbate the entirety of the situation.

Tracy: Some Massachusetts teens have even formed dating violence awareness clubs where they meet every week to listen and learn how to help classmates recognize signs of an abusive relationship, which could be the key to making a difference.

Gerry Leone: Of teenagers who are in abusive relationships, three percent will tell an authority figure. Six percent will tell a family member. But seventy-five percent will tell a friend. That’s why we focus on kids.

Tracy: It is all in the hopes that what happened to Lauren never happens again.

Now, according to the American Psychological Association, one in three teens and young adults is the victim of physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual abuse by a dating partner.

Scott: Wow! That is some scary stuff.

Now, to see the full 48 Hours episode, tune in tomorrow night to CBS at 10pm Eastern.

And, Tracy, thanks so much for being here.

Tracy: Thanks for having me back, Scott.

Scott: No problem.

Now, if you or someone you know is having issues with someone they are dating, check out our resources for help over at


6 comments on “Breakup Violence

  1. Aidan-Burke

    Wow, this story is a good resource for everyone that’s dating! We need to learn about these little things becoming a huge difference in life.

  2. Damaia

    Hearing a story like this devastates me. Sometimes you think that your relationship could be going perfectly fine and then something happens to end it. Once you do, you never know what the other person is capable of.


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