Is your teen being abused?

When someone is a victim of violence they might brush off, excuse, or even attempt to laugh about troubling or violent behavior from their partner. Remember that they are feeling vulnerable and need your support. Believe what they tell you and don’t get mad or angry with them for what they are telling you. They need to know they can trust you and if you overreact or blame them, they will lose trust in you and may stop confiding in you.


Signs of an abusive relationship​

  • They are depressed or anxious.

  • They have unexplained bruises or marks.

  • They stop participating in activities they used to enjoy.

  • They start to dress differently or dress out of character.

  • Their partner is extremely jealous, possessive or controlling to the point that they stop spending time with family and friends.

  • They are concerned about what might happen if they do not call their partner back.

  • They are worried about how their partner might react in certain situations.​


Tips to start the conversation

  • Remind them what healthy behavior in a relationship is.

  • Make sure you know who they are dating.

  • Help them recognize red flags for abuse.

  • Pick the right time to talk — it is often best to start casually.

  • Relate the topic to their everyday lives, ask about their friends or TV couples.

  • Point out to them when abusive behavior is modeled on TV or with friends/family.

  • Encourage them to talk to you when they feel unsafe.

  • Don’t make them break off unhealthy relationships, this will be their choice in the end.

Is your teen being abusive?

This is a tough situation. But, as their parent or caregiver, you have the ability to help them recognize that their behavior is unhealthy and possibly criminal. You can help break the cycle of abuse by showing them that this is a serious problem that must stop.


First steps to talking with an abusive teen

  • Teach and model good anger control and problem-solving behavior. Remember that your children learn by imitating you. If your child is exposed to adults who lack good anger control or are abusive, point out to them why this is a problem and highlight the negative consequences of being unable to control anger or effectively solve problems.


  • Many teens who abuse are unaware that their behavior is abusive in the first place. They may be in denial and believe that they're right. They may even believe their partner provoked them. Point out to them that everyone has to control their actions and emotions. Point out behaviors your teen engages in which are abusive and explain to them why it's not appropriate. Tell them that it's hurting the people around them and that their partner has the right to feel safe and have autonomy. 


Signs that show your teen is abusing

  • They are extremely jealous or insecure about their relationship and partner.

  • They check their partner's cell phone, social media, or email without their permission.

  • They accuse their partner of cheating, flirting, lying, or teasing without cause/evidence.

  • They "test" their partner's loyalty or attempt to trap their partner into cheating or flirting.

  • They try to limit their partner's interaction with their friends and family and may not let their partner spend time with you if they're not around.

  • They may have intense mood swings directed at you.

  • They feel they can tell their partner what they can and cannot do.

  • They humiliate, belittle, or put their partner down.

  • They have a problem controlling their temper.

  • They have physically hurt their partner intentionally.