7 Things Every Teen Should Know
- Everyone deserves the right to be in a safe and healthy relationship.
- A healthy relationship is based on trust and freedom.
- Your partner should never try to change who you are; they should empower the person that you already have become.
- Abuse is about power, not love. It’s also not about strength and weakness. Anyone is susceptible to being taken advantage of by someone they love.
- Being in a same-sex relationship does not “level the playing field.” Anyone can be an abuser. Anyone can be abused.
- If your friend is in an abusive relationship, the worse thing you can do is issue an ultimatum. All that does is drive her closer to her abuser and accelerates the isolation process.
- The way you can help a friend is by helping her get help and by telling her that you’re there when she’s read.
5 Things for Parents to Know
- You need to educate yourself about dating abuse. The information is available for free. Take the time to go online and read it.
- Know the warning signs and pay attention.
- Be involved in your teen’s life and ask questions.
- Talk to your teens about dating abuse. Parents will talk to their children about drugs, sex, and bullying. But dating abuse rarely makes the cut.
- Never attack the abuser, that will only make your teen defensive. Instead, talk about the relationship. Have teens identify the pros and cons of the relationship, not the person they are with.
- If your child is in an abusive relationship, you cannot force her out. As a victim, her control has already been taken away from her, her self-esteem has been lowered, and her choices have been compromised. Trying to force her out of the relationship can re-victimize her. As difficult as it may be, as an adult, you must accept that they ultimately have to make the decision but to never stop being there and giving support.
How Do We Stop Abusers Before They Start?
- Education. Talk to young people about what healthy relationships look like, what dating abuse is, and how to effectively manage anger.
- Intercede sooner rather than later.
- Talk to men and get more men involved. Contact organizations like Men Can Stop Rape and New York based Day One to get help with talking to young men.
- Take care with how we define masculinity and what it means to be a real man
- Model healthy behaviors in our own lives and communities. Watch the way we speak to each other, the way we treat each other, and the way we handle anger.
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