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Is your teen in an abusive relationship?

April 12, 2016

By Jessica Vician

Is your teen in an abusive relationship? | Nearly 1.5 million teens in the U.S. admit to being physically harmed by someone they are romantically involved with in the past year. How can you recognize the signs? | A teenage girl rests her head on her hand, looking upset, as her boyfriend tries to explain.

Did you know nearly 1.5 million teens in the U.S. admit to being physically harmed by someone they are romantically involved with in the past year? And that number is only the amount of teens that admit to it.

This type of violent behavior often begins as early as 6th grade, according to DoSomething.org. And it’s not happening in scary places—60 percent of rapes of young women occur in their home or at a friend or relative’s home.

How can you recognize the signs of an abusive relationship?
Even though your child is in a transitional period as a teenager, you still know his or her core personality the best. Look for negative behavioral changes and listen to how your teen greets his or her significant other to see how they behave around each other.

Pay attention to these potential signs:

  • Excessive texting and calling
  • Criticizing appearance (for example, hairstyle or clothing)
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Bruises, scratches, welts
  • Harmed or dead animals or pets on your property

How can you confront your child about an abusive relationship?
If you suspect that your child is in an abusive relationship, you will need to talk to him or her. Before you bring it up, it’s a good idea to speak with a professional.

Find a therapist or organization that specializes in abusive relationships or teen relationships and talk to them about your concerns. A professional will have the best advice for confronting your child about the relationship.

Here are some online organizations that can help:

In the meantime, keep these tips from Love is Respect in mind when talking to your child:

  • Talk about the behavior, but not the significant other.
    Your teen may become defensive if he or she thinks you’re attacking the significant other, so it’s important to keep the behavior separate from the person.
  • Don’t demand a break-up.
    Ultimatums rarely work, especially on teenagers. It’s more important to listen and help your teen come to the conclusion on his or her own that it’s time to leave the relationship.
  • Be supportive.
    If your teen is sharing his or her concern with you, listen and be sympathetic. Don’t criticize your child; instead, show your support by praising him or her and speaking to your teen’s worth and potential.

Setting the tone for healthy relationships is important in the teenage years. Even if your child is in a bad relationship now, you can help him or her leave and get on a path to healthy, loving relationships in the future.

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