Teen Relationships: Are You Aware What’s Going On?

Teen romances aren’t always light hearted and filled with love – some are subject to violence, so you should be aware of the signs so as to be able to help your teen through this time. Abuse in relationships can happen to both men and women, but it is more likely to happen to women and girls. It also happens in same sex relationships. Both physical and emotional abuse can leave a damaging scar on a person’s confidence and mental health, as well as leading to depression, drug and alcohol problems, and eating disorders in some cases.


Sexual abuse can also result in pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. There are many facets of physical abuse, from hitting and kicking to pressuring someone into something they don’t want to do, such as sexual activity. Emotional abuse can involve saying things to make your partner feel stupid or small, pressuring them into doing things they don’t want to, checking up on them all the time to find out what they’re doing, and threatening them. Mobile phones and the internet have made abusive partners worse in many ways, making it easier to control people and find out where they are all the time. If you suspect that your child is being abused in their relationship, you should speak to them about it and express your concerns. It’s important that they realise that such behaviour isn’t ok, and that they don’t need to put up with it. Some teens feel that such acts are just part of being in a relationship or that their partner is just messing around. It’s your role as their parent to advise them of the truth and to make them understand that they don’t need to be controlled, whether it is violently or through words.


There are signs that you can keep an eye out for, so as to spot the signals of an abusive relationship early on. These include your child’s boyfriend or girlfriend getting extremely jealous when they do anything or go out without them; they may monitor their calls or texts, or check their social network accounts for messages. If they have trouble controlling their emotions, particularly anger, then you may want to be watchful that they aren’t taking this anger out on your teen. Many abusers are verbally abusive and use force when arguing as well. They may also stop their boyfriend or girlfriend from seeing their friends or family as much. Some girls put up with this as they feel that it is a sign their partner loves them and is simply jealous, but this is not true. This form of control is about being manipulative, it is not about love or romance.


If you suspect that your child is being abused, you should express that you are there for them and that they can always come to you no matter what. Victims of abuse often feel ashamed so you need to tell them that it isn’t their fault. Finding the words can be difficult, as you will no doubt be worried and concerned, but try to be as emphatic as you can that you are there for them no matter what happens. If you or your teenager are unsure what to do, or how to react to the situation, you may benefit from speaking to a counsellor who can help you navigate the situation safely and effectively. Your GP may be able to help you seek out such services in your local area.

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