It may be hard to think of your teen as having an intimate relationship, let alone an abusive one. But if you suspect dating violence, your son or daughter needs your support.
Many adults fail to take teen dating abuse seriously. It’s important to know that teen dating abuse can be as violent as adult domestic violence. Teens who experience or perpetrate abuse in their dating relationships are very likely establishing patterns of abuse that can carry on throughout their adult lives.
What Do I Need to Know?
Knowing the early warning signs of abuse can help you to identify whether your teen is in an abusive relationship before it’s too late. Some of these signs include:
Your teen’s partner behaves in a way that is extremely jealous or possessive, such as checking in on your daughter or son often
You observe verbal abuse, such as name-calling or demeaning comments
Your teen gives up things that are important, such as time with friends and family, activities or other interests
Your teen has unexplained injuries
Your teen’s partner abuses other people or animals.
What You Can Do
Tell your teen that you are concerned for his or her safety. Point out that what is happening is not normal. Everyone deserves a safe and healthy relationship. Offer to connect your teen with a professional, such as a counselor or attorney, who will keep the conversations confidential.
Be supportive and understanding. Stress to your teen that you are on his or her side. Provide information and non-judgmental support. Let your teen know that the abuse is not his or her fault and that no one deserves to be abused. Make it clear that you don’t blame your teen and that you respect his or her choices.
Help bring prevention programs into your community. You can help educate educators about the importance of this issue by introducing your local school administrators to the Respect WORKS! model.
For more tips on how to help your teen, visit Break the Cycle's page for parents.