Help for Teens
If you are a teenager involved in an abusive relationship, you need to remember that no one deserves to be abused or threatened. Remember you cannot change your batterer, and in time the violence will get worse. You need to take care of yourself. Talk to a trusted adult or locate a shelter or agency serving victims of domestic abuse in your community. Together, you can talk about making a plan to end the relationship and remain safe.
Call the Shelterhouse 24-hour hotline, 1-877-216-6383. Help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Consider double-dating the first few times you go out with a new person.
- Before leaving on a date, know the exact plans for the evening and make sure a parent or friend knows these plans and what time to expect you home. Let your date know that you are expected to call or tell that person when you get in.
- Be aware of your decreased ability to react under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- If you leave a party with someone you do not know well, make sure you tell another person you are leaving and with whom. Ask a friend to call and make sure you arrived home safely.
- Assert yourself when necessary. Be firm and straightforward in your relationships.
- Trust your instincts. If a situation makes you uncomfortable, try to be calm and think of a way to remove yourself from the situation.
Safety Planning for Teens
You should think ahead about ways to be safe if you are in a dangerous or potentially dangerous relationship. Here are some things to consider in designing your own safety plan.
- What adults can you tell about the violence and abuse?
- What people at school can you tell in order to be safe–teachers, principal, counselors, security?
- Consider changing your school locker or lock.
- Consider changing your route to/from school.
- Use a buddy system for going to school, classes and after school activities.
- What friends can you tell to help you remain safe?
- If stranded, who could you call for a ride home?
- Keep a journal describing the abuse.
- Get rid of or change the number to any beepers, pagers or cell phones the abuser gave you.
- Keep spare change, calling cards, number of the local shelter, number of someone who could help you and restraining orders with you at all times.
- Where could you go quickly to get away from an abusive person?
- What other things can you do?
Tips for Adults Who Care
If you suspect that your teenager is already involved with an abusive partner, ask. Give your teenager a chance to talk. Listen quietly to the whole story. Tell your teenager you are there to help — not to judge. If your teenager does not want to talk with you, help your teenager find another trusted person to talk with. Focus on your child and do not put down the abusive partner. Point out how unhappy your teenager seems to be while with this person. Take whatever safety measures are necessary, including calling Shelterhouse at 877-216-6383.
Teen dating violence often is hidden because teenagers typically:
- are inexperienced with dating relationships
- are pressured by peers to act violently
- want independence from parents
- have “romantic” views of love.
Teen dating violence is influenced by how teenagers look at themselves and others.
Young men may believe:
- they have the right to “control” their female partners in any way necessary.
- “masculinity” is physical aggressiveness
- they “possess” their partner.
- they should demand intimacy.
- they may lose respect if they are attentive and supportive toward their girlfriends.
Young women may believe:
- they are responsible for solving problems in their relationships
- their boyfriend’s jealousy, possessiveness and even physical abuse, is “romantic.”
- abuse is “normal” because their friends are also being abused.
- there is no one to ask for help.
Teenagers can choose better relationships when they learn to identify the early warning signs of an abusive relationship, understand that they have choices, and believe they are valuable people who deserve to be treated with respect.
What You Can Say to Your Teen
- “I care about what happens to you. I love you and I want to help.”
- “If you feel afraid, it may be abuse. Sometimes people behave in ways that are scary and make you feel threatened — even without using physical violence. Pay attention to your gut feelings.”
- “The abuse is not your fault. You are not to blame, no matter how guilty the person doing this to you is trying to make you feel. Your partner should not be doing this to you.”
- “It is the abuser who has a problem, not you. It is not your responsibility to help this person change.”
- “It is important to talk about this. Many people who have been victims of dating violence have been able to change their lives after they began talking to others. If you don’t want to talk with me, find someone you trust and talk with that person.”