It's no secret that teenagers can be impulsive, reckless, and sometimes even careless. But what if those seemingly negative qualities were being exploited by someone else? What if your teen was a victim of dating abuse?
Unfortunately, teen dating abuse is a serious problem in the United States. According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 1 in 5 female high school students and 1 in 10 male high school students reported experiencing physical violence from a dating partner within the last year.
The CDC defines dating abuse as "the physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional violence within a dating relationship, including stalking." In other words, it's not just physical violence that counts; any kind of behavior that controls intimidates, or harms a partner can be considered abusive.
So how can you tell if your teen is being abused? There are several warning signs to look out for:
1. Changes in mood or behavior. This can include anything from withdrawing from friends and activities that used to make them happy to exhibiting signs of depression or anxiety. Depression and anxiety are common among teens anyway, so it's important to pay attention to any sudden or drastic changes in mood or behavior.
2. Isolating themselves from family and friends. An abuser may try to isolate their partner from the people who love them in order to gain control over them. This may manifest as your teen suddenly stopping attending family gatherings or dropping out of extracurricular activities.
3. Excessive jealousy or possessiveness. A little jealousy is normal in any relationship, but if your teen's partner is constantly accusing them of cheating or flirting with other people, that's a red flag. Similarly, if they're trying to control who your teen talks to or where they go, that's another sign that something isn't right.
4. Putdowns and criticism. Does your teen's partner regularly criticize them or put them down? Do they make fun of their appearance or intelligence? Do they blame your teen for everything that goes wrong in the relationship? These are all warning signs of an abusive relationship.
5 . Unpredictable anger. Everyone gets angry from time to time, but if your teen's partner has a quick temper and blows up over small things, that's a sign that they might be abusive. It's also worth noting if your teen is afraid of their partner when they get angry; that fear is another sign that something isn't right.
If you see any of these warning signs in your teenager's relationship, don't hesitate to reach out for help. There are many resources available to victims of dating abuse, including hotlines like the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) or visit us at www.slidfnd.org.
Remember no one deserves to be abused, no matter what.