Signs Your Teen May Be in an Abusive Relationship

teen-relationshipIt’s natural for kids to become a bit more secretive during their teen years. They’re maturing, testing boundaries, and learning how to be more independent as they head toward adulthood. Checking in with them regularly to learn about what’s going on in their lives, at school, or with friends is important. But what if you suspect that something unhealthy or even dangerous is happening to your teen? If you start to notice any of the following signs, your teen might be experiencing abuse:

  • Your child’s partner is extremely jealous or possessive to the point where your child stops spending time with other friends and family. When asked how they feel about this, your child might say something like: She thinks my friends don’t like her, so she doesn’t like spending time around them. Or, She thinks they’re a bad influence on me, and she’s just trying to help.
  • You notice unexplained marks or bruises.
  • You notice that your son or daughter is depressed or anxious.
  • Your child stops participating in extracurricular activities or other interests.
  • Your child 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 child worries if they can’t text/call their partner back right away because their partner might get upset.
  • Your child expresses fear about how their partner will react in a given situation.

Staying tuned in to your teen takes patience, love, and understanding – plus a little bit of effort. If you are concerned about any of your teen’s relationships, reach out and get them talking as soon as possible. There are several ways you can help, including passing along some useful resources.

This month is teenDVmonth, and our advocates are always here if you or your teen have questions. Give us a call at 1-800-799-7233 or chat online, Monday through Friday from 9am-7pm CST.


Cellphones, social media are new tools in teen dating abuse

The Washington Post – Jokes (and gripes) about teens using social media and cellphones nonstop are aplenty, but some parents might not be aware that these technologies are also being used as tools in dating abuse.

Katie Ray-Jones, president of the National Domestic Violence Hotline has heard stories from teens who have had dating partners use text messaging, social media and cellphone calls to intimidate and control them. February is Teen Dating Violence Month, and Ray-Jones is trying to spread the word about Love is Respect, a service the Hotline launched in 2011 in conjunction with Break the Cycle.

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Happy Valentine’s Day from the Hotline!

valentines-dayValentine’s Day is about expressing love and appreciation for the important people in your life – whether it’s your spouse, romantic partner, or a special friend. Here at the hotline, we strongly believe in the work we do with people who are hurting because of unhealthy and/or abusive relationships, but we want to celebrate healthy relationships, too.

This Valentine’s Day, take a moment to reflect on the people you love and how you can contribute to keeping your relationships healthy. Here are a few things to consider:

Love yourself. Sometimes this is the hardest part of a relationship – loving and accepting yourself for who you are. It’s just as important to take care of yourself emotionally, mentally and physically as it is to care for your partner. Don’t forget to make yourself a priority so that you can be your best self for your loved ones.

Communicate. Talk to your partner about your feelings and needs, and give them space to talk about theirs. Listen to what they are really saying; are they upset because you didn’t notice they did the laundry, or because you left your dirty dishes in the sink? Maybe they’re really trying to tell you that they don’t feel appreciated. Make the effort to talk and listen to your partner every day.

Trust. This is a key part of every relationship. Trust your partner fully, and always be each other’s biggest champion. If you don’t trust your partner and vice versa, there could be potential to slide into an unhealthy relationship. Talk through any trust issues and explore ways to be faithful, reliable, and secure with your partner.

Today, please join with the team at loveisrespect.org, a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, to promote healthy relationships with the National Respect Announcement. Post this announcement to your social media accounts and let the world know that everyone deserves healthy relationships!

This Valentine’s Day, we’d like to remind you that everyone deserves a safe and healthy relationship. If you or someone you know has a question about a relationship, healthy or unhealthy, visit loveisrespect.org or text “loveis” to 22522.

Remember, love has many definitions, but abuse isn’t one of them.

You can also call the hotline anytime, day or night, at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or chat online with us Monday through Friday, 9am-7pm CST. Our advocates are here for you.

We wish you a safe and happy Valentine’s Day!


Talking to Teens About Digital Safety

digital-safetyTeens are online a lot these days. Whether they’re updating Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, using Snapchat, or “checking in” with various location tools, technology has become highly integrated into their lives. While we definitely support using technology in healthy, fun, and productive ways, sometimes it can make life difficult or dangerous for teens.

Nothing ever really disappears from the internet – whether it’s a photo, a status update, or a tweet – so it’s important to have regular, open and honest conversations with your kids or students about safe ways to use technology. During teenDVmonth, we want to encourage you to start having these conversations as soon as possible! Here are some ideas to get the ball rolling:

  • Open the conversation by using current examples of how sharing online can quickly escalate out of control. In one brilliant experiment, a teacher received a LOT of attention when she posted a photo of herself online to show her 5th grade students how anything can be widely shared or digitally manipulated on the internet.
  • Talk to your teen about privacy. How does he or she define privacy? What types of things would they like to keep private? Be sure to talk about using apps to “check in” to places online, or tagging their location on Instagram and Facebook, and how that might compromise their safety or their friends’ safety.
  • Create “Digital Safety Guidelines” with your teen. Let them have input, and talk through what they are comfortable sharing online and why. Together, you can learn about privacy settings for social networks and how to use them.
  • Talk to your teen about establishing digital boundaries with their boyfriends or girlfriends. These boundaries might shift and change as the relationship progresses, but it’s important for both partners to continue communicating about what they’re comfortable with. Some good questions to discuss are:

– Is it okay to tag or check in?
– Do we post our relationship status?
– Is it okay to friend or follow my friends?
– When is it okay to text me and what is the expectation for when we return it?
– Is it okay to use each other’s devices?
– Is it okay to post, tweet or comment about our relationship?

  • Go over the signs of digital abuse. Ask if they’ve ever experienced any of these signs, or if they know someone who has. Brainstorm ways to deal with this type of abuse.

The internet isn’t going away any time soon, so it’s unrealistic to expect your teens not to use it. By learning more about how the teenagers in your life are using technology, you can help them determine how best to keep themselves safe and healthy.

If you have any other suggestions for how to talk to teens about staying safe online, please leave them in the comments!


Get Involved: Respect Week 2014 is February 10-14!

At loveisrespect, a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, our advocates take calls, chats, and texts from teens who have questions about relationships, and respect is an issue they frequently discuss. In honor of Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month (teenDVmonth), we hope that you will start conversations with the teens in your life about what healthy relationships look like. Maybe you got things started this past Tuesday on It’s Time to Talk Day, but if not, you still have time – Respect Week 2014 is just around the corner!

Hosted by loveisrespect’s partner Break the Cycle, Respect Week encourages teens and youth leaders to participate in teenDVmonth. From wearing orange to actively engaging your community, here are just a few ways you can help spread awareness of teen dating violence:

      • Download the Respect Week 2014 Guide, created by loveisrespect’s National Youth Advisory Board, for a comprehensive look at information, ideas, and activities for the week
      • Wear orange and be part of the nationwide orange-out on Tuesday, February 11 to help spread awareness of dating violence. Invite your friends to the Facebook event, post a picture and update your social media using the hashtags #teenDVmonth and #RespectWeek2014
      • On Valentine’s Day, ask students to read the National Respect Announcement across your school’s intercom, to your class, youth group or wherever fits best. You’ll raise awareness of teen dating violence and how to end it. You can also spread the word by joining the Thunderclap and sending out the National Respect Announcement to all your social media networks
      • Host an event where you can educate your family and friends about how dating abuse affects one in three teens
      • Keep talking to the teenagers you know and love about healthy relationships

This year, take part and help everyone learn how to build relationships free from abuse. Keep the conversation going and get ready for Respect Week 2014!


February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

TeenDVMonthAccording to loveisrespect, a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, one in three teens in the US is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a partner. While teen dating violence can happen to anyone, the majority of the violence affects young women. Women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence – almost triple the national average.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month (TeenDV Month), a national effort to raise awareness about abuse in teen and 20-something relationships and promote programs that prevent it, and YOU have the power to help! Talk to teachers at your local high school, bring up dating violence at the next school board meeting, and have a conversation with the teens in your life about healthy relationships.

We’ll kick off TeenDVMonth tomorrow, February 4th, with It’s Time to Talk Day. Hosted by Break the Cycle’s Love Is Not Abuse Campaign, It’s Time To Talk Day is an annual awareness day that aims to generate conversations about healthy relationships and prevent teen dating violence and abuse. Learn more and pledge your support on the website!

Another great way to get involved this month is to participate in Respect Week, February 10-14, hosted by the loveisrespect National Youth Advisory Board (NYAB). Check out the loveisrespect website for more information and to download the NYAB’s Respect Week 2014 Guide.

Everyone deserves safe and healthy relationships. Want to know how to help a young person experiencing abuse? Call our advocates today at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233). Also, find us on Facebook and Twitter to stay updated with important resources and information for loved ones who may be experiencing dating violence.

Don’t forget check back with our blog throughout February for more on TeenDVMonth!