When most people think about dating violence, they picture a set of adults in a heated argument that got out of hand. Unfortunately, violence is not limited to people over the age of 18. Many teens experience abuse and trauma when they date, which changes the shape of their future relationships. Whether you are a parent or a teenager in the dating world, there are things you can watch out for to identify dating violence and prevent it from happening again. Let’s take a look at some common signs of teen dating violence so you know what to look for.
How Common Is Teen Dating Violence In Michigan?
According to the Michigan Domestic Violence Prevention and Treatment Board, one in five female high school students reports being sexually or physically abused by their dating partner at some point during their relationship. Girls and young women 16-24 years of age are the most vulnerable to dating violence, but boys and young men can be at risk all the same. The department says that approximately 95% of victims of teen domestic violence are female, based on several independent studies. Many teens do not speak out when they are being abused or even after the abuse is over, so it is difficult to say just how prevalent this problem is among middle and high school students. Nevertheless, it is a growing concern worth watching out for.
Warning Signs Of Teen Dating Violence
If you are worried that someone you know is the victim of teen dating violence, look for the following signs:
- Sudden Social Withdrawal (No Longer Wanting To Spend Time With Friends And Family Members)
- Consistent Apologies, Even When Nothing Was Wrong (Apologizing Is A Habit That Can Form After Someone Is Consistently Put Down Or Emotionally Abused)
- The Development Of Depression And Anxiety After Entering A Relationship
- Signs Of Physical Trauma, Such As Bruises, Cuts, Or Scratches
- Changes In Personality Traits, Like A Talkative Person Becoming Extremely Quiet And Reserved
- Increased Irritability (Getting Angry About Small Matters)
- Reduced Self-Confidence And Self-Esteem
- Loss Of Concentration (Often Combined With Low Grades)
- Being Defensive On Behalf Of The Abuser When Confronted By Other People
- Attempting Suicide
You may notice a combination of the signs listed above, or you may see other changes that are out of character. The goal is to see the way the teen reacts after getting into a new relationship. It’s natural for a teen to become infatuated with his or her boyfriend or girlfriend, but it is not natural for that infatuation to cause fear, isolation, anger, etc. Be mindful of the changes that your son or daughter experiences during the dating process, and seek help if you believe dating violence is involved.
What To Do If You Suspect Teen Dating Violence
If you think your teen is a victim of dating violence, there are several steps you can take to get him or her out of the bad situation. First, you need to speak with your son or daughter about the issue at hand. Tell him or her that you are worried about the changes he or she has gone through while dating a certain person. It’s important not to point out the teen’s faults, but rather discuss transitions he or she has gone through, like social isolation, getting rid of friends, or changing personalities altogether. Your teen may be reluctant to hear any of this, but you need to establish a foundation to build on.
Once you have talked with your teen about the problem, you need to find a way to either remove him or her from the relationship or get the other person to get help for his/her anger issues. Even as a teenager, abusers are completely capable of changing and improving if they want to. You simply need to figure out if that person is willing to make the changes necessary to stop the violence. You can discuss all of this with a family counselor who will guide you through the confrontation and recovery process.
If your teen wants to get out of the relationship but fears for his or her safety, you may need to speak with a school administrator about ways to keep your teen safe away from home. This may require a schedule change moving your teen’s locker to another part of the school, or alerting the security guards about the matter so they can respond accordingly. In a worst-case scenario, you may need to move your teen to another school to keep him or her safe.
Throughout this process, you may ask your child to go through teen counseling to speak with a professional about his or her relationship and the abuse he or she experienced along the way. Your teen may be more open to discussing this issue with a professional, rather than telling you about it directly. Your teen counselor will help your teen build back his or her self-esteem and progress forward to a better quality of life.
For more information about helping a child after teen violence, feel free to contact Perspectives Of Troy Counseling Centers at (248) 244-8644.