Talking to Your Teen

Talking to teens and young adults about relationship abuse can be especially difficult, especially if that person is a child you care about. Important points to keep in mind when offering support to your teen include:

  • Accept what they are telling you. Listen and be supportive even when you don’t understand or agree with their decisions. Being judgemental will make them feel worse and less likely to reach out to you for help when they need you.
  • Allow them to make up their own mind. Leaving an unhealthy or abusive relationship is difficult and may even be dangerous. While you may have more years of experience with relationships than they do, they know the circumstances of their own relationship far better than you do. Remember that abuse is about power and control and making decisions for them can only add to the disempowerment they’re already experiencing from their partners.
  • Don’t prevent them from seeing their partner. Controlling their actions will make them more likely to keep secrets from you. Avoid taking their decision-making away from them – as this is a tactic they may already be experiencing in their abusive relationship Remember that forcing this may be something that their partner can easily use to manipulate and use as “proof” that other people are the problem.
  • Don’t post information about them on social media. Never use social media platforms to reveal your child’s location or where they spend time. A partner who is abusing them may be able to use your posts to find them. Learn more about Internet safety.
  • Don’t give up. Your instinct is probably to remove your child from harm’s way immediately, but abusive situations aren’t that simple. Even though helping them can be frustrating when you don’t understand or agree with their decisions, they need to know that they can trust you and depend on you for support. Make decisions that let them know that you’re there for them.

love is respect, a project of The Hotline, is available 24/7 to empower young people to prevent and end abusive relationships. Visit loveisrespect.org to access information, resources, and immediate support specifically aimed at teen and young adult relationships.

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