Teens are experiencing dating abuse at alarmingly high rates. If you believe a teen in your life is experiencing dating abuse, talking with them about your concerns is a great first step. Here are some ideas for how to start a conversation with them, as well as some tips and resources.
If you think a teen is being abused, the first step is to talk about it and ask open-ended questions like:
- I notice that you seem afraid (or sad) around your boyfriend/girlfriend. Can you tell me about your relationship?
- I see that your boyfriend/girlfriend is texting you constantly. Can you tell me what’s going on?
- I notice that your boyfriend/girlfriend seems extremely jealous. Can you tell me what’s going on?
- I know that you broke up with your girlfriend/boyfriend but they won’t stop trying to see you. Can you tell me what’s happening?
- I notice that you have some injuries, did someone do that to you?
Once you get the conversation going, show support by saying things like:
- I’m concerned about your safety.
- What you are experiencing is abuse, and no one deserves to be abused.
- I’m here for you and will help you through this.
- Let’s talk about how we can bring your parents or other adults in to support you.
- I know an organization you can turn to, where you won’t be judged and can get information and support. Call, text or email New Beginnings’ Teen Advocate, Amira at (206) 960-3788
LoveIsRespect.org is a great resource for teens and for adults who are concerned about teens in their life.
- If someone is sharing about their abuse, believe what they are saying.
- If someone denies abuse but you believe it’s happening, pick the conversation up again later, and continue expressing your concern and support. Depending on your relationship with the teen and the individual situation, consider rallying the teen’s friends and other supportive adults to help. Understand that the teen may be angry at you, at least initially.
- Don’t judge: it’s hard, and often dangerous—even for teens—to leave an abusive relationship.
- Be patient; it’s hard for teens to reach out for support, especially from adults.
- Our Helpline is here for you too!