What to Do If Your Teen Is in an Abusive Relationship

• Assess your own beliefs towards healthy relationships
• Create an open environment
• Discuss relationships in general not specific to the abuse
• Be brief
• Respect your teen’s point of view
• Find Resources

There is no one way to talk to your teen about an abusive relationship but there is a wrong way, and that is not talking at all. Here are a few ways to open the conversation about your teen’s abusive relationship.

Assess your own beliefs towards relationships

Before discussing your teen’s abusive relationship you must first take a look at your own beliefs towards healthy and unhealthy relationships. During this time, you want to acknowledge your own limits of what is OK and not OK in your relationships. This will help you develop an understanding of your own relationship boundaries and reiterate that back to your teen effectively. The goal is for your teen to develop their own set of boundaries based on their experience and your guidance.

Create an open environment

Opening up space for your teen to talk without judgment is key. Teenagers in relationships can be a sensitive subject for them. They are gaining new experience and new emotions towards their partner and not to mention have high hormones. This can lead your child tp closing up and withholding information from you as you’re the parent and “can’t relate.” Therefore, by opening up and having conversations about your past relationships as a teen or your friends dating experiences can help build trust and credibility with your teen.

Discuss relationships in general not specific to the abuse

Your teen’s life is consumed with more than just her “romantic” relationship. A few different “back door” conversation approaches are:

1) Talking to your teen about other relationships in their life such as their siblings, peers, teachers, etc.
2) Find media topics around respect, love, and relationships.
3) Discuss other relationships within your community and/or circle

During this time, you are assessing your child’s definition of what respect and love are and their personal boundaries. By discussing other relationships, you continue to build trust and if the abusive relationship is discussed it won’t seem like a “red flag” or a conversation your teen tries to avoid.

Be brief

Not all serious conversations have to be long. Your teenager’s attention span is really short and they rather the “get to it” style. Therefore, be prepared. You know your teen best and because of that, you know how they will respond with different approaches. Find the most “comfortable” approach for both you and your teen and make it short.

Respect your teen’s point of view

There is a reason your teen is in this relationship. However, right now is not the time to find the reason but to support. The more you support your child during this difficult time, the easier it will be for them to leave the abuser. They may eventually notice the harm the abuser is doing and move more towards the love your family is giving them. Keep in mind, respecting your teens point of view is not about accepting their decision but more importantly, respecting your teen’s autonomy and growth into adulthood.

Find Resources

If you’re concerned about your teen’s safety, please contact your local police station or call 911. If you believe your child’s mental health is being impacted by their abusive relationship, contact your local Licensed Mental Health Provider.

For more information on Teen Dating Violence: https://nrcdv.org/dvam/tdvam or https://www.lifewire.org/

All material on this website are designed for educational and informational purpose only. This website does not constitute medical advice or professional services. The information provided here should not be used for the purposes of diagnosis or treating a medical or psychiatric illness. The primary goal is providing educational material on this website to help children, teenagers, and families make an informed decision about the services and approach Bloom Sooner offers. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for medical advice.Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have in regards to a medical condition. Do not disregard medical advice from your physician or health care provider because of what you read on our website. If you are in need of a mental health professional please seek a Licensed clinician. If you or your child is experiencing any mental health or physical crisis, contact 911.

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