Creating Healthy Relationships, Combating Teen Dating Violence

Dating violence, much like domestic violence, happens when one person desires too much control over the other person and resorts to violence to maintain that control. Teen dating violence is a serious issue and women who are ages 16 to 24 are the most likely to encounter teen dating violence. However, boys and men also experience teen dating violence. Parents and other authority figures must work hard to help teenagers create healthy relationships and combat teen dating violence.

But what is teen dating violence? Statistics show that anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of teens say they have experienced some kind of violence from a dating relationship. Rape is one of the most recognized forms of teen dating violence and nearly ¾ of teen girls who are raped will know the rapist as a boyfriend, friend or other teen. Other forms of teen dating violence go beyond sexual abuse to include physical abuse, verbal abuse and emotional abuse.

When it comes to teaching your teenager about dating abuse, it’s important to make sure that your child knows that the lines of communication are always open between you. Many teens are hesitant to report dating abuse because they are embarrassed, so make sure your teen knows they can come to you anytime about any topic. When you can communicate with your child about how to create healthy relationships when dating, you could spare them the pain and suffering that teen dating violence brings.

Here are 3 ways that parents can empower teens to recognize whether or not they are dating a potential abuser and how to tell when the relationship has moved from healthy to harmful:

  1. Recognize the signs. Teens need to know how to recognize an abusive person. They may be forgiving of certain characteristics because they are blinded by their crush’s positive traits. However, teens should be aware that someone who throws or breaks things when angry, can’t control their temper, demonstrates mood swings and acts extremely jealous might just be someone who will be abusive down the road.
  2. Isolation and control: An abuser may be charming and loving, but still able to abuse their victim because they concentrate on isolating them from their support group. If a teen senses that their partner is trying to isolate them from friends, family, favorite activities and more, it’s a good sign that they are becoming more possessive and jealous, and may become violent.
  3. Manipulation: Teens are often masters of manipulation, but may not recognize it when they are being manipulated. Common manipulations include making them believe something that didn’t happen, blaming them for causing certain actions or thoughts, threatening violence or self harm unless the teen does what is asked, and even claiming that if the teen really loved them, they would do what is asked. Recognizing manipulation for what it is helps teens see it in others.

All too often, teens are enamored by romance and their first crush, so they don’t have the right mindset to identify harmful behavior. Also, they don’t have much relationship experience to compare to. As a parent, you can set the standard for a healthy dating life and give them the know-how to ensure they don’t experience teen dating violence.

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