teen relationships and abuse warning signs

This February, feel the love by showing kindness, safeguarding your family against fire, teaching your teens about positive relationships and giving your belly a snack it will love! All this, and more, in our newest issue of Wellness. The first article, in its entirety below, discusses warning signs that your teen may be involved in an abusive relationship. Or read the entire issue here.


Watch Your Teen for Signs of Relationship Abuse

February is a time of love, but for some teens, love can hurt. Most teens will remain quiet if they are in an abusive relationship, which can cause physical, mental, and emotional damage. They might later become abusive to others and are far more likely to have abusive relationships into adulthood.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Do you know the signs of violence in a teen dating relationship?

  1. Extreme Mood Swings. Teenagers tend to have mood swings, and if you have a teen, you’re familiar with those. However, if the swings seem extreme, it may be a sign of trouble. For example, if your son or daughter is screaming but then is suddenly quiet and remote.
  2. Isolation. If your teen’s partner is trying to keep him/her away from others, that is a sign. Another sign: if your son/daughter seems withdrawn and antisocial. Like everyone, teens should maintain a healthy balance between time spent alone, time spent with his/her partner, and time spent with friends and family. An imbalance might be a sign of abuse.
  3. Physical Harm. The abuser may have scraped knuckles or show other signs of defensive wounds. The abused may wear baggy clothes or use makeup to hide bruises. Unexplained injuries, especially if continuous, may be a sign.
  4. Bad Grades. The stress and drama of a bad relationship may take a normally A-B student down a few grades. If there doesn’t seem to be a reason your child’s grades have suddenly changed, consider his/her relationship.
  5. Sexual Activity. If intimacy is part of your teen’s relationship, it’s important that both partners are on the same page about it. Sexual relations can be used as a form of control, and victims may feel they have to give in.

Some other warning signs from Break the Cycle:

  • She apologizes for his behavior and makes excuses for him.
  • She loses interest in activities that she used to enjoy.
  • She stops seeing friends and family members and becomes more and more isolated.
  • When your daughter and her boyfriend are together, he calls her names and puts her down in front of other people.
  • He acts extremely jealous of others who pay attention to her, especially other guys.
  • He thinks or tells your daughter that you (her parents) don’t like him.
  • He controls her behavior, checking up on her constantly, calling and texting her, demanding to know who she has been with.
  • She casually mentions his violent behavior but laughs it off as a joke.
  • You see him violently lose his temper, striking or breaking objects.
  • She often has unexplained injuries, or the explanations she offers don’t make sense.

How to Talk to Your Teen

If you suspect your son or daughter’s relationship is not healthy, you’ll need to talk to him or her about it, which is not easy. Break the Cycle has two useful resources with information about how to get the conversation started:

You should express your concern for your child’s safety, but ultimately your teen must choose to leave the relationship.

Here is a list of more resources to get help for your teen, including the Dating Abuse Helpline. When the relationship ends, he or she may find it useful to talk to a therapist or counselor. Depending on the situation, you may want to report the abuse to the police, file a restraining order, or file a lawsuit. Here is more information about that.

Talk to us, too, if you have questions.