If you think your teenager is in an abusive relationship, firstly, regularly, talk to your teenager about relationships – what’s ok and what’s not ok.
If your teenager thinks that a partner getting jealous and checking up on them or hitting them is acceptable, or makes a joke out of it, explain that kind of behaviour isn’t about love, it’s about control.
Talk to your teenager about signs of abuse so they can spot the signs.
Such as a boyfriend or girlfriend:
- Checking up to see where they are.
- Checking their mobile or emails.
- Stopping them seeing friends.
- Pushing, hitting or physically hurting them.
- Criticising them in front of others.
- Blaming THEM when THEY’RE aggressive.
- Using put-downs or swear words to describe them.
- Or pressurising them to do things they don’t want, including sexual things.
You could watch YouTube clips on ‘Teen Dating Violence.’ And talk about what love is, and what it isn’t.
Secondly, let your teenager know that they can always come to you, no matter what.
Victims of abuse often feel ashamed and responsible for what’s happening to them. It’s very hard to open up about abuse. Your teenager needs your reassurance that you’ll listen, not take over, and will just try to help them decide what to do. If they won’t talk to you, could they talk to another trusted adult? Or ring an anonymous helpline such as Childline or the NSPCC?
Finally, if you notice signs of abuse, tell them what you’ve noticed. Then listen without criticising or trying to take control.
If your teenager has unexplained marks or bruises, or becomes withdrawn, or stops seeing their friends. Or make excuses when their partner treats them badly. Or says something that rings alarm bells. When everything’s calm, go to their room and ask if it’s ok to talk.
Don’t criticise their partner, or they’ll get defensive. Keep what you’re saying really neutral;
‘I’ve noticed you’ve stopped meeting up with lots of your old friends. And I overheard you telling Amy that you couldn’t see her because John doesn’t like it. How about we have a chat about it?’
If your teenager does open up, just listen. Don’t tell them what to do or criticise them or their partner. Explain you’d like to support and help them. Discuss healthy relationships and unhealthy signs.
Ask at what point they’d end the relationship. And help them work out how THEY’D like to deal with it now.
So if you think your teenager is in an abusive relationship 3 things you can do are:
- Talk to your teenager about relationships – what’s ok and what’s not ok.
- Let your teenager know that they can always come to you, no matter what.
- If you notice signs of abuse, tell them what you’ve noticed. Then just listen without criticising or trying to take control.
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