Saturday 25 January 2020

TV presenter Miquita Oliver in a Women's Aid campaign about domestic violence

What To Do When Your Teenager Is In An Abusive Relationship

Are you watching your child, noticing odd behavior, or unexplained bruises on their bodies? If you have, then your daughter, or son, may be a victim of teen dating violence.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9.4 percent of high school students report being hit, slapped of physically hurt by their boyfriend or girlfriend.  In their 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, the CDC found that 1 in 5 girls, and 1 in 7 boys, who had been raped, had experienced it at the hands of boyfriend or girlfriend when they were between the ages of 11-17.

What are the Signs? There are key signs that should alert a teen that they are in a violent relationship. According to the House of Ruth, a domestic violence prevention organization in Baltimore, MD., those signs include:

  • Boyfriend/girlfriend gets jealous and wants to keep tabs on you at all times
  • try to control everything from what you say to who you see
  • threaten to hurt you or themselves if you say you’re going to leave them
  • text and IM you excessively when you don’t want them to or they send mean messages
  • get violent when they’re angry, punching walls and throwing things
  • switch from charming to rage without warning
  • put you down and criticize you in front of their friends
  • blame you for the things they do and say
  • make you feel scared or threatened
  • make you feel scared or threatened

What’s the Cause? The CDC states that teen dating violence often stems from failure to communicate with your partner, manage uncomfortable emotions like anger and jealousy, or knowing how to treat others with respect. Much of a teens violent behavior, too, is learned from what they have seen at home, what they experience with their friends, and what they see on television and hear on the radio. Think about it, all a young person has to do now is to turn on the TV to see all types of “reality” television to see the characters turning over tables, yelling in people’s faces and literally beating other people up in order to get their way. TV executives are thinking more about their ratings than they are about the message they are sending to youth.

After seeing how their parents and friends handle violence, and seeing it negatively reinforced on television, teens may begin to:

  • Believe it’s okay to use threats or violence to get their way or to express frustration or anger.
  • Use alcohol or drugs.
  • Be unable to manage anger or frustration.
  • Hang out with violent peers.
  • Have multiple sexual partners.
  • Have a friend involved in dating violence.
  • Are depressed or anxious.
  • Have learning difficulties and other problems at school.
  • Don’t have parental supervision and support.
  • Witness violence at home or in the community.
  • Have a history of aggressive behavior or bullying.

The short and long term effects for teens can be devastating, effecting their scholastic performance, encourage them to turn to alcohol and/or drugs to cope, attempt suicide, or become an abuser themselves.

What are Some Warning Signs? The House of Ruth has detailed three warning signs that should alert you that your child is being abused by their girlfriend or boyfriend:

  1. Mood – If your child’s relationship is making them sad, angry, scared or nervous then it’s probably not healthy and it’s time to talk.
  2. Becoming isolated – When people don’t feel good about themselves they often stop hanging out with friends or doing things they used to enjoy. Sometimes it’s because they’re embarrassed by what’s happening and want to keep it a secret. Even worse, it’s often because their abuser is telling them what they can and can’t do.
  3. Physical Signs – Look for bruises, physical marks or broken property. Abusers often make their displeasure known by hitting walls or breaking things that are important to their victim like photos or cell phones.

No one knows your child like you do. If you notice that your child has become withdrawn, seems sad or nervous consistently, or has marks of abuse, then step in and get them help. Likewise, if your child has an explosive temper and is often angry, then get them help. In the end, it’s better to do something than to all the abuse to continue.

If you, or a loved one, are in an abusive relationship and want help, please click here for the National Domestic Hotline, or call them at 1800.799.SAFE (7233) 1800.787.3224 (TTY).

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