Research suggests that 1 in 3 teens is a victim of Teen Dating Abuse in the United States.
Teen Dating violence can show up in different forms - physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, stalking, financial abuse, digital abuse and all of the above. If your gut is telling you that something is off with your teen, pay attention to see if you recognize any signs of teen dating violence.
1. Unexplainable bruises Does your teen have a lot of unexplainable bruises or injuries? Are they constantly making excuses about the injuries? Do their stories line up? Keep probing to find out more.
2. Depressed or lonely Is your usually extroverted teen suddenly becoming a hermit? Are they being less social than usual? Are they spending too much time with their boyfriend/girlfriend? Do they seem upset and have a lot of fights with their boyfriend/girlfriend? Do they seem to be isolated from their friends? Isolation is one of the red flags of an abusive relationship.
3. Drug use Do you suspect that your teen has started using drugs or abusing alcohol? Research shows that an abusive relationship is linked to higher use of drugs and alcohol by both the abuser and the victim. The victim may also be using drugs as a way to cope with abuse and self-medicate.
4. Changes in school performance, eating or sleeping poorly
Declining grades? Changes in school performance can be a sign that something is wrong. Dating violence is linked to school absence and dropping out of school. If your teen seems to be eating poorly or sleeping too little or too much, it may also be a sign that something is wrong. Abusive relationships are linked to eating disorders and sleeping too little or too much may be a sign of anxiety or avoidance.
5. Being uncharacteristically sneaky or secretive
Adolescence is a confusing time and your teen may not tell you everything about their life all the time, but if your teen is being uncharacteristically sneaky or gets angry/irritated when you ask them about their life, something may be amiss.
If you recognize these signs talk to your teen in a non-confrontational manner. Let them know that you are here for them when they're ready to talk. Do not blame or impose rules or judgments on them, this will only isolate them further. If you feel that you are not the right person to have a conversation with them on this topic, direct them to resources that can help. They can text 'loveis' to 22522 talk to a peer advocate from Break the Cycle or call
Daya's confidential helpline, available throughout the week on 713-981-7645.
Here are some more useful resources where you and your teen can learn more about teen dating violence and healthy relationships: