Potential Warning Signs of Violence in Teen Dating Relationships
A recent article from NBC addressed a growing issue in our nation – domestic violence in teen relationships. According to the article, a Washington D.C. domestic violence organization helped more than 100 people between the ages of 13 and 17 in the last year.
Experts say that in some cases, the perpetrators were victims of abuse themselves, as many believe domestic violence is a learned behavior. Therefore, children in homes where they witness domestic abuse between parents are more likely to become abusers.
Because the effects of domestic abuse are long standing, it’s even more important to try and stop it within teenage dating. Parents and friends can start by recognizing some warning signs in teen relationships.
Warning Signs of Teenage Dating Abuse
When you’re young, you don’t always realize that certain behaviors are signs of how someone might turn violent, or how emotional abuse is just as real as physical abuse. The following includes some warning signs to watch out for in your partner:
- Partner demanding you run things by them before doing anything
- Partner checks your phone, email, or demands to know your passwords
- Threatens you
- They use guilt to get their way
- Your partner pressures you into things you aren’t comfortable with or ready for (i.e., sex)
- You’re blamed for everything that goes wrong
- Your partner calls you name or puts you down
- Your partner expresses anger in a scary manner
- They constantly text or call you
- Your partner demands to know where you are at all times
There are also physical signs parents can look for in their children that may be red flags that there are major issues in their relationship. These include:
- Teen has lost interest in activities they once enjoyed and friends they hung out with regularly (depression)
- Teen is more critical of themselves
- They are unwilling to share information with you and have become more secretive
- Teen changes their appearance in a way which seems completely out of character
- A drop in their grades
- An increase in anxiety
- Unexplained bruises or injuries
- Teen is always apologizing for partner’s behavior or minimizes their actions when you question them
- You notice unhealthy jealousy
- Your teen is always in communication with their partner
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence also notes some additional potential warning signs. These may include serious issues such as self-harming behaviors like cutting, hair pulling, etc. Changes in eating habits, prolonged exhaustion, use of drugs or alcohol (especially in excess), or changes in overall personality may be red flags as well.
Consider a Protective Order
Individually, these points are not confirmation that domestic abuse is taking place, but they are often strong indicators that there is reason to worry. It’s important that you talk to your teenager to ascertain what is going on in their dating life. And, if you’re a teenager in an abusive relationship, there are resources available and agencies that can help.
If there is confirmation of abuse or your teenager is scared of their partner, a protective order might be the best course of action. An emergency protective order can be issued, and then a full hearing can be scheduled to obtain one that lasts two years. The abuser will be notified and is welcome to come to the hearing. If granted, the protective order dictates the abuser cannot contact the victim without the court’s approval.