Get your child the help they need before it’s too late.
Nobody ever wants to see their child in an abusive relationship, and for many, it is hard to believe your vibrant healthy child could get involved with someone who might hurt them physically or emotionally. Yet teen dating abuse is more common than most parents realize.
One in four youth reports verbal, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse each year.* (CDC, 2006)
Communication is key to helping your child set appropriate boundaries, build healthy relationships and stay safe. Talk to your children about finding a partner who respects them and doesn’t hurt them, and then help them get out of an abusive relationship.
Know the Signs
There are some signs that may indicate your child is in an abusive relationship. These signs may include:
- Changes in behavior may range from extreme to subtle.
- Physical bruises, which may be hidden by makeup, scarves or long sleeves
- Change in eating or sleeping habits
- Change in wardrobe or appearance
- Begins to isolate herself, or stops talking about her usual friends and activities
- Lack of interest in family activities
- Increased anxiety or problems making decisions
- Struggling with grades or performance in the classroom
- Change in personality or moods, including depression, sadness, anger
- Constantly responding to text messages on her wireless phone
- Preoccupied with checking the time or checking in with her partner
- Extreme sensitivity or overreacting to constructive criticism
- Use of drugs or alcohol
Although some teenagers begin to demonstrate their increased independence by changing their looks, friends or habits, parents can often determine if these changes are a result of a new dating relationship. Abusive partners use power and control to influence their victims’ self-esteem, which makes the teens feel they are not worthy of love and that they are to blame for whatever abuse they experience.
Dating abuse not only affects your child’s self-esteem, but it can create confusion that leads to life-changing problems. Victims of dating abuse are not only at increased risk of injury, they are also more likely to engage in binge drinking, suicide attempts, physical fights and sexual activity. (Center for Disease Control)
Lead by Example
If you currently live in an abusive situation, whether you are verbally or physically abused in front of your child, please seek help. Some young people’s relationships reflect those of their parents or loved ones. They may think it is acceptable to have a controlling partner if they see a similar pattern in your own relationship.