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When Love Hurts

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

By: Crystal Booker

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner which means candy hearts and wilted carnations will be filling high school hallways across the country.  February 14th is a huge deal for many teens and is often their first opportunity to engage in public shows of affection by way of fluffy teddy bears and big, red balloons.

But what happens when young love turns into a bruised eye from a significant other or a controlling text from a girlfriend or boyfriend?  It’s not okay and it happens far too often.  When it does, it often takes place right under our noses.

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM) falls perfectly in February when teens and adults alike are focused on what some consider one of the most romantic times of the year.  The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides a few tips on how to notice if your teen or a teen in your community may be in an abusive relationship.

Here are a few red flags:

  • You notice unexplained marks or bruises.

  • You notice that your teen is depressed or anxious.

  • Your teen stops participating in extracurricular activities or other interests.

  • Your teen begins to dress differently; for example, wearing loose clothing because their partner doesn’t like for them to show off their body or attract the attention of someone else.

  • Your teen worries if they can’t text/call their partner back right away because their partner might get upset.

  • Your teen expresses fear about how their partner will react in a given situation.

Do any of these signs sound familiar?  If they do, it may be time for you to take action.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline has a few suggestions on how to handle conversations with your teen about dating violence.  The first step is accepting what your teen is telling you and showing a genuine concern.  It takes a lot of trust for a young person to confide in an adult about what is happening in their relationship.  If they’re opening up to you, it means they want your help and are willing to listen. 

The National Domestic Violence Hotline also encourages parents and trusted adults to be prepared with knowledge about dating violence ahead of time.  There is a likely chance a teen’s conversation with you could be their first or last time receiving reliable information on the issue.  If it happens, you want to make sure you are as informed as possible.  We’ll link some sites at the end of this post to help connect you to some insightful information about teen dating violence.

The hotline also suggests talking about what behaviors are inappropriate and not focusing all of your energy discussing the abuser.  Recognize there may be feelings of love in the relationship and that talking badly about your teen’s significant other can often push them into defense mode.   Identify what behaviors are abusive and focus on helping them understand why those behaviors are not acceptable.  Allow the teen space to have dialogue without feeling they have to defend their partner.

The SC Campaign recognizes teens who are victims of dating violence are often at a heightened risk for becoming a teen parent.  As we approach Valentine’s Day, keep in mind nearly 1.5 million high school students experience dating violence each year.  That puts 1.5 million teens at a greater risk for having a child as a teen.  This year, a listening ear from a trusted adult may mean more to them than roses and a pretty card.  As we continue to address the issue of teen pregnancy in our state, we encourage you to help us protect our youth by being an ally for teens not just during Teen Dating Violence Month, but throughout the entire year.  

For more information on Teen Violence Awareness Month, click here: http://www.loveisrespect.org/resources/teendvmonth/

For more information on The National Domestic Violence Hotline, click here: http://www.thehotline.org/

To reach The National Domestic Violence Hotline at anytime, call : 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) 

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