One in 11 adolescents report being a victim of physical dating abuse (according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention). Many teenagers are struggling with what it means to have a healthy relationship and adults cannot assume that the warning signs of partner abuse are obvious. Abuse does not discriminate: It transcends race, religion, culture, socioeconomic class and it certainly exists beyond the physical.
It is no secret that media and technology have a major impact on the day to day lives of teenagers everywhere. Therefore it is important that the relationship choices of their favorite rappers, pop stars and reality TV stars are not the only messages informing their dating and relationship choices. Media’s promotion of disrespect and unwarranted abuse must be both monitored and prevented in the lives of today’s youth.
It is never too early to talk to your teenager about domestic violence or dating abuse. According to a study by Love is Not Abuse, about 72 percent of 8th and 9th graders are “dating,” and one in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner (a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence).
Domestic violence is affecting more teens today than ever. “Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year.”
Prevention starts with education. Look for the warning signs and take action. Here are a few of the obvious and not so obvious signs that may indicate that your teen is either in or headed towards an abusive relationship:
1. Sudden changes in their friendship circle
2. Lack of interest in activities, school or failing grades
3. Isolation from friends and family
4. Emotional outbursts
5. Excessive calling/texting or desire to quickly call/text back a significant other
6. Social media harassment, humiliation, or constant pressure to “status update/check in”
7. Romanticizing of significant other’s jealous remarks or behavior
8. Frequent demand of privacy or secretive behavior
9. Constant apologetic language
10. Excessive makeup or unusual clothing choices (to hide physical bruises, scratches etc.)
11. Overall change in temperament or personality
12. Sudden criticism of their own appearance, talent, abilities etc.
13. Name calling by their significant other (sometimes veiled or dismissed as “joking”)
14. Improper justification of behavior (their own and/or their significant other’s)