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Helping Teens Get Out of Abusive Relationships
by Dore Frances, Ph.D., founder of Horizon Family Solutions, LLCLet's face it: Understanding any relationship is tough whether it's healthy or abusive!
The idea of someone being controlled by his or her partner is not easy to understand. Watching your teenager go through an abusive relationship can be one of the hardest things.
Naturally, as a parent you want to intervene and stop the relationship. Here are a few tips that may assist you.
- Keep all communication lines between you and your teen open. Besides noticing other warning signs from your teen, another way to understand their abusive relationship is by talking to them. When you choose to sit your teen down be careful of the things you say to them. For example, don't start off by yelling or blaming your teen. This will then cut of all hopes of communication and the process of helping them will be slowed down. Sit your teen down and explain to them what a good and bad relationship is or you can talk to them about their own relationship.
- Ask questions and stay alert and ready to hear anything. However, do not force your teen to talk if they do not want to.
- Always validate how your teen is feeling.
- Do not write their relationship off as "puppy love" or say "they will get over it by tomorrow" because this is not the case. When your teen is inside of an abusive relationship then it needs to be taken as seriously as anything else; because an abusive relationship is violent and usually will only get worse with time. Validate your teen's feelings because when this is done, then your teen will understand that you truly want to help them. Wanting to give help is a natural reaction. However try to limit your advice and try giving options instead. Do not automatically tell your teen to break up with their partner and end it there. Instead suggest that your teen create a new aspect of their life that their boyfriend shouldn't be involved with... whether that is spending time with the family, joining a church group, or doing community work. Then offer to do it with your teen so you two can spend more time together. Work at building your relationship with your teen rather than breaking their relationship with the abuser. While building your relationship with your teen remind them of how great they are to you and continually praise them so your teen's confidence will be up. Make sure your teen knows that you support them. Make sure they know you do not support the relationship and that you are always around to listen and help.
Dating abuse: "When one person uses a pattern of violent behavior through means of verbal, physical or sexual intimidation to gain power and control of their partner."
The difference between healthy and abusive relationships is that in healthy relationships, the couple works towards the relationship equally.
Dore Frances, M.A., is an educational consultant, childs right advocate, parent coach, specializing in working with troubled teens and their families in the United States, Canda, and abroad. See her site at: www.guidingteens.com or contact her by phone at:(541) 312-4422, or email at:Dore@DoreFrances.com.
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