Guest Author - Dominique Jordan
When teens are involved in a romantic relationship with someone it can be the most wonderful thing in the world. But when there are clear and constant dangers that something in the relationship may not be right, it’s important for every parent to step up and take the initiative in protecting their teen.
There are many signs that can help you recognize when someone you know or love is being abused in a relationship.
First and foremost, recognize the warning signs and talk to your teen. Know that dating violence is something that is happening to your teen, not something he/she is causing. One prevention method is to use a parenting contract on teen dating and keep the lines of communication open.
If you aren’t sure, but think maybe…
Use open communication, but do not pressure your teen to end the relationship. You do not want this to become a power struggle between the two of you. You want to make it clear you have seen the warning signs and while he/she has the choice of continuing to date this person, you are there for him/her should you be needed.
Have the National Domestic Violence Hotline handy. It's (800) 799-SAFE. Tell your teen where to find it. This way, if your teen is still worried about coming to you when there is a problem, he/she has a place to call for support.
If you and your teen have talked and he/she feels that there have been some signs but your teen doesn’t really think that his/her date would become violent, and then brainstorm some helpful strategies together.
Make them 'just in case' scenarios. Practice and role play them. You may also want to suggest to your teen that he/she group date for a while until he/she either gets more comfortable with the relationship or decides to break it off.
If you are sure…
Without a doubt, take a teen who has been physically hurt to the hospital right away. Reassure your teen that their physical well-being comes first and you can talk about how it happened when he/she is better. Hug, pamper, console – don’t nag.
After your teen has received medical attention, contact the police or talk with the hospital social worker who will contact the authorities for you.
If your teen tells you about physical and/or emotional abuse against him/her it is time to contact the authorities. If you aren’t sure where to call, try the local police or the National Domestic Violence Hotline, again at (800) 799-SAFE.