Is it abuse? continued...
- Feel less confident about yourself when you're with him or her?
- Feel scared or worried about doing or saying "the wrong thing"?
- Find yourself changing your behavior out of fear or to avoid a fight?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you might be in an abusive relationship. There are people who can help you. You're not alone. Talk to your parents or another adult family member, a school counselor, a teacher, or someone else you trust. Call a help center or hotline to get help.
Hotlines for help
These national hotlines can help you find resources in your area.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline toll-free: 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233), or see the website at www.ndvh.org.
- National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline toll-free: 1-866-331-9474 or (1-866-331-8453 TTY) or see the website at www.loveisrespect.org.
How parents can help
Teens may not have the experience or maturity to know if their relationships are abusive. A teen may think of dating violence as only physical violence-pinching, slapping, hitting, or shoving. Teens may not realize that any relationship involving physical violence, sexual violence, emotional abuse, or the threat of violence is an unhealthy relationship.
For example, a teen may think his or her partner cares when he or she calls, texts, emails, or checks in all the time. But that kind of behavior is about controlling the relationship.
Talk with your teen about what makes a healthy relationship. Explain that a caring partner wouldn't do something that causes fear, lowers self-esteem, or causes injury. Let teens know that they deserve respect in all of their relationships. Think about values and messages that you want to pass on.
You might start by asking your teen:
- Is your boyfriend or girlfriend easy to talk to when there are problems?
- Does he or she give you space to spend time with other people?
- Is he or she kind and supportive?