We're getting involved with this Thursday's student workshop, Real Relationships, which features guest speaker, Nityda Coleman from Teen Therapy Austin, who will inform students about what healthy relationships look like - with friends, family, and romantic partners.
This article by Futures Without Violence is also a great starting point for information about the causes and consequences of dating violence.
The Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness offers a multitude of resources for parents and professionals to learn more about causes, consequences, and prevention.
As parents, here are some things they suggest to keep in mind if you suspect your teen has been a victim of dating violence:
- Use "I" statements when describing your feelings. Let them know how concerned you are about their safety and wellbeing.
- Be sure to have specific examples to share with them about your concerns.
- Listen and believe them. Speak with sensitivity, support, and care.
- Be a comfort zone for them.
- Be a role model for supportive, healthy relationships with your own partner.
- Let your teen have some control in making decisions - their self-esteem and confidence may have been affected by their partner.
- Don't ask blaming questions like, "Why don't you break up with your partner?" or "What did you say to provoke your partner?"
- Don't talk to both teens together. The victim may feel inhibited about what they can say.
- Remember, if your teen does open up to you, it is possible that you will hear uncomfortable details. It's important to be nonjudgmental by focusing on resolving the problematic behavior of the partner rather than criticizing your teen.
They also offered some insight for parents who think their teen is an abuser:
- Recognize and confront the abusive behavior - be sure to back this up with specific examples.
- Let them know what is not acceptable.
- "While being supportive of your teen as a person and their efforts to overcome the abusive behavior, you may have to make the difficult decision to report your teen's violence to law enforcement. Teens are more likely to make change, so attending a batterer's intervention program might be effective. It is in your teen's best interest to learn accountability because it will allow them to make better choices in the future."
Having these conversations can be challenging but it's the first step we can take towards both healing and prevention.
I encourage us all to commit to being role models for our teens to show them what healthy, loving relationships look like!
Spread the love, Chaps!