If your 12-18-year-old was involved in an activity that increased their risk for substance abuse, risky sexual behavior, eating disorders, escalating and future domestic violence, what would you do?
Do you know what you should do?
Your children are ‘good’ kids so you don’t even worry about this issue. Teen Dating Violence can lead to the consequences listed above.
As with so many activities that people are embarrassed to talk about, this is much more common that most people, especially parents, imagine. According to statistics on the breaking-silence.org website, 1 in 3 teens in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse from a dating partner.
Because of fear and shame only 33% of teens who have experienced violence in a relationship have ever told anyone about the abuse.
What form does the abuse take?
It may be physical or sexual, but it may be verbal or emotional in nature. Sometimes this is even harder to discover since there are no obvious marks. The threat of abuse is also abuse. Teen dating violence harms a member of an unmarried heterosexual or homosexual couple. Control is the name of the game. Coercive tactics are intentionally used to obtain and maintain control over the behavior and emotions of the partner.
Did you know that 1 in every 10 high school students report that they have been slapped, hit, or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend?
Imagine the number who have been verbally and/or emotionally attacked!
So you are a parent and you want to know what might tip you off that there is a problem in a relationship. Remember that your parents, even if they are your best friends, may be too ashamed to tell even you about the abuse. Here are some signs that the relationship is not a healthy one. Unhealthy relationships have consequences that may not end when the relationship ends, so the less time exposed to the abuse, the better.
- Anger is easily expressed and is often excessive
- Your child is spending almost no time with anyone but their partner and it’s obvious the partner is very jealous of even this little time.
- Things they used to enjoy doing, they don’t do anymore. The partner is making all the decisions and has complete control.
- You observe how guarded your child is, especially when they are with the partner. They are being very careful not to do anything that would cause their partner to get angry. This is a huge emotional drain.
- Notice they often cringe when they are with their partner. Chances are they are reacting to a threat of physical abuse when you see this reaction.
As a parent, you may want to ask if any of these signs are true. Make sure that your tone of voice or the way you phrase the question doesn’t sound like you are blaming them for letting it happen. This only feeds the shame they already feel.
According to breaking-silence.org, Georgia has the highest rate of dating violence in the U.S.
Why do you think that is true?
We at King’s Treasure Box hear stories of teen violence and abuse often. It is heartbreaking to know so many children and teens suffer in silence believing there are no other options.
Many are either too ashamed or too afraid to tell. Here are some examples….
“I’ll never forget the day I met my mom’s new boyfriend. She was so happy. He looked nice and all but the weird wink gave me the creeps. I just figured he was trying to be nice. The guy starting sending me texts saying he wanted to be friends and like not replace a dad. Then he brought me stuff like candy or things for my phone. I tried to just avoid him but he told mom he wanted to get to know me before he moved in. Sometimes he was fun but his hand brushed against me in places but he always acted like he was playing and it was an accident. My mom didn’t notice so I just thought it was an accident.
One night when we were all watching a movie after dinner, I knew it wasn’t an accident. My mom was in the room and everything. I was too scared to say anything. Now what do I do? Do I tell my mom? He has been paying our rent for the last few months and mom is so happy. I’m so confused.” – Princess V
I’m the only one in my group who hadn’t had a boyfriend. I think ‘cuz I’m fat. So when Keith started teasing me in class I thought he liked me. I gave him my number but I wish I never did. I told all my friends that I had a boyfriend. I wish I never did that. I thought it was sweet that Keith always wanted to know which class I’m in and who I sat with at lunch but then it was annoying. After school he first acted like he was gonna fix my phone but then I know he was looking at my messages. He got really mad when he saw Marvin’s text even though it was about band practice. Keith told me to quit band so we could spend more time. Its like he wants to be with me every minute. I told him I love being in the band and he was furious. He only hit me twice but not about band.” – Princess L
“I was sure I would never be one of those stupid girls who sent private part photos to their boyfriends. I had no idea he recorded us having sex. I hate him!” – Princess S
“He lied. He is not 17. I feel like an idiot.” – Princess S
“I said no but he didn’t care.” – Princess P
After being sexually abused so much in childhood, I was starving for someone to care about me. I needed someone to show interest in what was important to me. I needed someone to listen to my opinions about life and hear my perspective on the world. No one had considered my thoughts and feelings prior to entering adulthood.
Then I met D. He was so amazing. He listened and listened and listened – for hours. He laughed with me and said things like, “Call me when you get home so I know you are safe.” No one had ever followed up to make sure I was safe! Never!
We laughed and we had fun. It seemed like someone really loved me. He paid off my school loans, helped with medical bills and so much more.
I wasn’t prepared for obsession. I wasn’t prepared for coercion and manipulation. I wasn’t prepared for his expectation of constant access to me and control over my time, my finances and my other relationships. I certainly wasn’t prepared for his anger when he didn’t get his way. I paid a hefty price for having someone listen to my views about the world and check on me when I arrive home! – Princess T
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