I'm concerned my teen might be in an
abusive relationship but she won't talk to me about her
dating partner. What do I do?
Because the teen years are a time of asserting independence, often teens won't discuss things with their parents. But you can still encourage respectful discussion and try to keep communication lines open. Let your teen know that you will respect their privacy, and you respect them. Ask them what things they think are abusive; then you can add to the list. Tell them if they do ever experience abuse in their relationships, they can talk to you about it. Let them know that you will not judge them or blame them about the experience no matter what and stick to that promise.
Also suggest others adults they could talk to about experiencing violence, such as a favorite teacher, a school counselor, a mentor, a spiritual leader/clergy, another family member they trust and respect like a grandparent, aunt or uncle, or even a trusted family friend. Make sure they have their phone numbers and know how to contact them. Provide them with hotline numbers they can call without giving their name if they do experience abuse, and encourage them to share the numbers with their friends.
For more information see Dating Violence and Your Teen.
Diane G. Kuschel, Former Extension Associate, College of Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri Extension
Last update: Friday, September 29, 2006