Could violence be a part of your teen’s social life or dating relationship? The answer could possibly shock you. While you might think that violence doesn’t affect the lives of your children, surprisingly one in three teenagers report knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, kicked, slapped, choked or physically hurt by their partner. One in four teenage girls who have been in relationships reveal they have been pressured to perform oral sex or engage in intercourse.
WHAT IS TEEN DATING VIOLENCE
Teen dating violence occurs when one partner, male or female, tries to maintain power and control over the other through one or more forms of abuse, including physical, sexual, verbal and emotional abuse.
While young people experience the same types of abuse as adults, often the methods are unique to the teen culture. Teens often are affected by technological abuse. Excessive texting, threats by text messages or email, or inappropriate postings to social networking sites, such as Facebook and MySpace, all constitute teen dating violence.
One in four teens in a relationship say they have been called names, harassed, or put down by their partner through cell phones and texting. Additionally, 19 percent of teens in relationships say their partner has used a cellular device or the internet to spread rumors about them. The use of technology as a tool for abuse also involves fear and the threat of violence.
HOW TO HELP YOUR TEEN
Less than 25 percent of teens say they have discussed dating violence with their parents. By keeping an open line of communication with your teen, you can step in and take a proactive approach to helping stop, or better yet, prevent violence in your child’s life.
Such topics as dating violence, the warning signs of abuse, defining healthy and unhealthy relationships, and respecting one’s self and others need to be discussed. Learn the warning signs of abuse, and the signs of an abusive partner. Be a role model for your child and let them know that values matter and that EVERYONE deserves to be treated with love and respect.
It is vital to make yourself aware of the warning signs of potential dating violence. Teens that are abused will have some of these signs:
- No longer hanging out with his/her circle of friends
- Wearing the same clothing
- Distracted when spoken to
- Constantly checking cell phone, gets extremely upset when asked to turn phone off
- Withdrawn, quieter than usual
- Angry, irritable when asked how they are doing
- Making excuses for their boyfriend/girlfriend
- Showering immediately after getting home
- Unexplained scratches or bruises
It is also very vital that you are aware of the warning signs of an abusive partner. One might think these are normal behaviors, yet they are NOT. Warning signs include:
- Extreme jealousy
- Constantly putting their partner down or calling them hurtful names
- Isolating their partner from friends and family
- Demanding sex or affection
- Demanding to know where their partner is and who they are with at all times
- Controlling behavior
- Unpredictable mood swings
- Threats of violence
- Physically hurting their partner
- Checking their partner’s cell phone, email, or social media without permission
- Explosive temper
It’s never too early to talk to your teens about healthy versus unhealthy relationships. Need more information? Need tips to start the conversation? Check out some of these great resources:
- To speak to a Hubbard House advocate about domestic/dating violence please call (904) 354-3114 or (800) 500-1119 or visit www.hubbardhouse.org.
- National Teen Dating Hotline: (866) 331-9474, www.loveisrespect.org (has live chat)
- Teen Internet Dating Info: www.loveisnotabuse.com
- Break The Cycle: The only national non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to ending dating abuse. www.breakthecycle.org, www.thesafespace.org
ABOUT HUBBARD HOUSE
Founded as the first domestic violence shelter in Florida in 1976, Hubbard House is a certified, comprehensive domestic violence center providing programs and services to more than 5,000 women, children, and men annually in Duval and Baker counties. While Hubbard House is most known for its emergency shelter, the agency also provides extensive adult and youth outreach services, school-based education, therapeutic childcare, batterers’ intervention programs, court advocacy and volunteer and community education opportunities. Visit www.hubbardhouse.org to learn more.
By Vanna Tauch