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Teen Dating Violence: Signs Parents Need to Watch Out For

When it comes to domestic violence and abuse among dating couples, you may automatically call to mind an image of an adult couple. However, teens are just as susceptible to the issue. In fact, teen dating violence is a prevalent issue that can lead to a wealth of problems. Teens subjected to dating violence may suffer from depression and anxiety, and may even abuse drugs or alcohol to cope.

As a parent, you want to do everything you can to protect your child. Recognizing the signs of dating violence can help you ensure that your child is safe. If you happen to notice some of the indicators of violence going on, you need to make sure you take appropriate action to assist your child in getting out of the situation as soon as possible.

Indicators of Teen Dating Violence

Teenagers often seem secretive and secluded, which can make spotting the signs of teen dating violence difficult. However, there are indicators that can help you out. First, you need to determine if your child is being abused or is the abuser. Signs your child is the abuser include:

  • Continuously checking partner’s phone for messages and call logs
  • Extreme jealousy toward others, even friends and family
  • Explosive temper and/or extreme mood swings
  • Controlling behaviors, such as telling partner what to do
  • Physically or verbally harming partner
  • Embarrassing partner using various methods, such as in person or on social media
  • Creating false accusations about partner’s activities

There are also signs that indicate that your child is the victim of abuse, which include:

  • Unexplained injuries, such as scratches and bruises
  • Sudden onset of illness brought on by stress or trauma
  • A drop in academic performance and/or skipping school
  • Isolation and withdrawal from social activities
  • A drop in appetite and skipping meals
  • Emotional outbursts with no explanation
  • A sudden onset of drug and/or alcohol abuse

Recognizing the signs of teen dating violence can help you assist your child in breaking free from the violent situation.

What Can You Do

There are steps you can take to help your teen, whether they are the abused or the abuser. In either situation, you must take appropriate action to stop teen dating violence. If your child is the abuser, encourage a sit down and engage in a calm talk. Let your child know that you are concerned and want to find out what is the cause behind the behavior.

Let your child know that their behavior is harmful and requires professional help. The cause of abusive and violent outbreaks can come from a number of factors. Your teen may be suffering from depression, anger issues, mood disorders, and drug and alcohol disorders. Determine the cause behind the abusive behavior will allow you to take appropriate action.

If you suspect that your child is being abused, you must take a proactive approach. Offer your teen encouragement and support. They need to know they can talk to you about anything, no matter what. Make sure you do not react angrily. As hard as it might be, you must remain calm. If you react angrily, your child may withdraw further.

Should your teen admit to the abuse, encourage your child to break free from the relationship. Let your teen know that abuse is an unacceptable behavior that is not deserved by anyone. Keep in mind that your child has likely suffered a lot of psychological damage as a result of the abuse. For that reason, you will want to seek out the help of a therapist.

Take your child to a therapist for an evaluation. The therapist can determine what psychological damages have been done to your child as a result of teen dating violence. Furthermore, the therapist can assist your teen in recognizing why the abuse is not healthy so they are more likely to separate themselves from the abuser. A therapist can also provide you with more information so you can better assist your child.

Monica Ramunda is a solution-focused therapist with an office located in Louisville, Colorado for in-office visits. With a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology and more than 16 years experience in therapy and counseling, Monica works as both a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Registered Play Therapist (RPT) with adults and children respectively. Much of Monica’s success is based on her eclectic orientation and drawing on a wide range of different approaches and techniques all while remaining strongly grounded in the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Techniques (CBT).