It is important to teach our children to honour themselves by not allowing anyone to abuse them. As your teen begins dating and developing relationships, you may want to know how you can help keep her or him safe from teen dating violence. The tips below are ways that you may be able to reduce the risk factors for your teen experiencing dating violence and recognise if his or her relationship is becoming abusive:
- Establish and maintain positive communication between yourself and your teen. If you listen more than you talk, you may find that your teen opens up to you more. Developing a level of trust with your teen before they start dating will make it easier to talk about issues such as dating violence later.
- When talking with your son or daughter, you may hear things that make you uncomfortable but keep talking to them anyway. Your teen may be afraid to talk to you, especially if it is about an abusive relationship. If you have an extreme reaction, they may not trust that they can talk to you about it again. Be careful how you handle the information they have shared and take time to learn more about the issues your teen is facing.
- Educate yourself about healthy teen relationships and share that information with your son or daughter when they begin to date.
- Pay attention to what is going on in your teen’s life, particularly in their dating relationships. Don’t pre-judge their friends or significant others but do be aware of the way those teens are interacting with your son or daughter.
- Boost your teen’s self-esteem. Tell them what you appreciate about them, help them to become more confident, and encourage them to believe in their own self-worth.
- You may know your teen’s boyfriend or girlfriend and possibly their family. But don’t assume your teen’s relationship is healthy simply because you know his or her partner—there may be hidden problems.
- If you have concerns about what is happening in your teen’s life, talk to them about it. Be open to the idea that your interpretation of the situation may be inaccurate. Let them explain their perspective and the teen culture they interact in every day.
- Remember that you are your teen’s parent, not their friend. It is your job to watch out for their best interests and set clear boundaries when necessary. While you want to respect their privacy, do take steps to ensure that you are aware of what is going on with your teen and their relationships.
- Learn the warning signs of teen dating violence. If you see changes in your teen’s behaviour that are concerning (such as extreme anger or depression), talk to them about it. You may want to consider seeking professional help such as a counselor.
Dating violence, like domestic violence, is a pattern of controlling, and abusive behaviours of one person over another within a romantic relationship. It can include verbal, emotional, physical, sexual, and financial abuse. It can occur in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. It knows no boundaries and crosses all lines of race, socio-economic status, etc. It CAN happen to ANYONE.
If you are a teen or young adult who has experienced dating or sexual abuse, and you want to seek advice or counseling about it, Lifeline offers a telephone counseling service on 1800 737 732 where you can talk to someone who can advise you what can be done about the situation. You may need help from the police and other such officers. Please do not hesitate to call if you feel you need help.