One in three high school students will experience some form of dating violence in their relationships. One in ten high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.
According to breakthecycle.org 81% of parents said they didn't think or didn't know if dating violence was a problem. For parents and teens, being able to tell the difference between healthy, unhealthy and abusive relationships can be difficult, but recognition is key. Although there are many signs to pay attention to in a relationship, look for these common warning signs of dating abuse:
• Checking cell phones, emails or social networks without permission
• Extreme jealousy or insecurity
• Constant belittling or put-downs
• Explosive temper
• Isolation from family and friends
• Making false accusations
• Erratic mood swings
• Physically inflicting pain or hurt in any way
• Telling someone what to do
• Repeatedly pressuring someone to have sex
If you see any of these signs please make sure that you talk with your child about it immediately. It is important that teens understand that this behavior is not OK and that they don’t have to accept it.
It is also important that teens understand the difference between healthy, unhealthy and abusive relationships. They need to understand and recognize the signs of abuse so they can get out of the relationship and seek help if needed. Whether they are in a serious relationship or casually dating, teens should understand that all relationships should be free of fear, and that healthy relationships are built on trust, honesty and communication. That the people involved are respectful of one another, their privacy and their boundaries. Relationships are meant to be fun! They should make you happy!
A relationship should never be filled with jealousy, or a lack of trust. You shouldn’t be made to feel guilty or like your thoughts, ideas or feelings don’t matter.
They should certainly never be violent, disrespectful or degrading.
Never ignore a gut feeling. If you suspect your teen or a teen you know is involved in an abusive relationship, step in now.
The impact of teen dating violence is severe. Among high school students who have experienced sexual and physical abuse by a dating partner, 9 out of 10 have seriously contemplated suicide, and over 80% have attempted suicide.
Teens should also understand that having disagreements with a partner isn’t uncommon, but the key is how you react to the disagreements. Knowing how to resolve conflict in a healthy way is something that will serve teens well today and in adulthood.
Tips for Conflict Resolution:
Set Boundaries. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect—even during an argument. If your partner curses at you, calls you names or ridicules you, tell them to stop. If they don’t, walk away and tell them that you don’t want to continue arguing right now.
Find the Real Issue. Typically, arguments happen when one partner’s wants are not being met. Try to get to the heart of the matter. If your partner seems needy, maybe they are just feeling insecure and need your encouragement. If you’re angry that your partner isn’t taking out the trash, maybe you’re really upset because you feel like you do all the work around the house. Learn to talk about the real issue so you can avoid constant fighting.
Agree to Disagree. If you and your partner can’t resolve an issue, sometimes it’s best to drop it. You can’t agree on everything. Focus on what matters. If the issue is too important for you to drop and you can’t agree to disagree, then maybe you’re not really compatible.
Compromise When Possible. Easy to say but hard to do, compromising is a major part of conflict resolution and any successful relationship. So your partner wants Chinese food and you want pizza? Compromise and get Chinese tonight, but pizza next time you eat out. Find a middle ground that can allow both of you to feel satisfied with the outcome.
Consider Everything. Is this issue really important? Does it change how the two of you feel about each other? Are you compromising your beliefs or morals? If yes, it’s important that you really stress your position. If not, maybe this is a time for compromise. Also, consider your partner’s arguments. Why are they upset? What does the issue look like from their point of view? It is unusual for your partner to get this upset? Does your partner usually compromise? Are you being inconsiderate?
If none of this is working, it may be time to let a relationship go.
These were meant to be signs and tips for teens dating, but let’s face it—these pretty much apply to relationships as a whole regardless of age.
Remember if you need help in a relationship there are sources available. Parents, teachers, school counselors and the YWCA are all great resources.