Identifying Teen Dating Violence and How to Help
People often get wrapped up in the excitement of Valentine’s Day during the month of February, but did you know it’s also Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month? One in three teens in the United States will experience physical, sexual or emotional abuse by someone they are in a relationship with before they are an adult. This makes it important for parents to know the warning signs of teen dating violence, and how to help a child suspected of suffering from abuse.
Warning Signs of Relationship Abuse
Unfortunately, it is often difficult for teens to tell the difference between an abusive relationship and an unhealthy one. If you have a teenager in your life, important signs to look for that could be evidence of abuse include:
- Extreme jealousy
- Extreme insecurity
- Explosive temper or erratic mood swings
- Possessiveness or isolation from friends and family members
- False accusations
- Checking phone logs, emails, or social media sites without permission
- Pressure to have sexual relations
- Making demands or being controlling
- Physically inflicting pain
How to Help Your Child
If you think your child is in a relationship that may be abusive, it’s important to trust your intuition. Talk to him or her right away and encourage open communication at all times. Encourage conversation about his or her relationship so you can identify potential red flags outside of the typical warning signs. Make sure to listen intently and be sympathetic – don’t ever blame your child or turn the conversation into an argument.
Explain to your teen what a good relationship is like. Ask questions, get their feedback, and listen to their opinions without being judgmental. Validate your child’s feelings without talking down to him or her. An abusive relationship is serious, no matter how young or old someone is. If there are early signs of emotional abuse, it is more likely to turn violent over time. Provide your child with options and decide on the next step together, whether it is going to counseling, speaking with someone at church, or talking with peers.
Remember – dating violence can happen at any age. There are a variety of professionals available for you and your child to call, text, or chat with, who can provide advice on how to deal an abusive partner. Don’t wait. Reach out today.