As parents, we often don’t think about problem relationships for our children. Most families are lucky to have a wonderful relationship filled with love and support of each other. There is no need to worry about safety because they do not think about it being an issue. However, with domestic violence assaults being on the rise and more than you know being committed by teens, you can’t help but wonder how to prevent this from happening.
As a former victim, I speak about domestic violence and how to prevent it. I teach people the signs to watch for so they do not end up in one and also what to look for in their children’s relationships to steer them away from potentially hazardous relationships.
You may think that this wouldn’t happen to your teen, but you couldn’t be more wrong. I never believed this would happen to me and even worse, I never thought that it would happen to one of my children, but it did. I was so involved in being abused, I didn’t pay attention to the signs that my daughter was going through a hazardous relationship until she came home one night carrying her shoes.
This made me stop and take a good look at her. She was dirty, her shoes were wet and she had bruises on her arms. I confronted her that night about what was wrong. What had happened. She averted her eyes and said it was nothing. Right there the red flag was flying! I knew right then from what she said that she was being abused. She sounded and looked like me. If I hadn’t gone through what I had, I would have just thought that she had been fishing by the ditch and fell in, but I knew better.
I walked back to her room and asked her if her boyfriend gave her those bruises. I held no anger in my voice, I spoke calm and quietly, my heart breaking. She lowered her face to look at the floor and said so quietly, yes. Then entered her best friend, the girl next door. She looked at me and said mom, I have been telling her to tell you but she said you had been through enough and didn’t need her problems on top of your own. I shook my head back and forth and said that’s not true. I always need to hear your problems. I am NEVER too busy, caught up or distracted by my own problems. My daughter looked at me and said mom, you haven’t even noticed. That really caught my attention.
I said, you’re right, I have been caught up in myself with therapy, court and a lot of other things, but I am here now. I am back on Earth with you in the here and now and I want to know what is going on. I can see from the bruises on your arms that he has been man handling you. Her friend said that he was for the past few days. She told me it started with him telling her she couldn’t hang out with her friend anymore.
I looked at both of them and said that is a sign right there that the relationship is headed in the wrong direction. Then I questioned her about the wet shoes and dirt. My daughter told me that they had an argument and he took her shoes and threw them in the ditch. After fighting with him and literally rolling the ground with him, she got them from the ditch.
To make a long story short, the young man went to jail for 3 years as he had done this same thing to a previous girlfriend. He would not be a problem for my daughter again, however, I knew I needed to discuss the signs of an unhealthy relationship.
Here are some signs for you to look for when your children begin to date, no matter what their age:
1. The partner is jealous of other friends past or present.
2. Unexplained marks or bruises.
3. They are not as talkative with you as they used to be.
3. They are no longer hanging out with their usual friends.
4. They act depressed or nervous.
5. They no longer wish to participate in their usual extracurricular activities.
6. They no longer want to spend time with family the way they used to (other than their usual date nights)
7. Their wardrobe changes (not due to school)
8. The partner finds animal abuse funny or commits such acts.
These are some of the warning signs. You don’t have to be paranoid, but you do need to be observant. Keeping an observing eye can be the one thing that keeps your child safe. I am always available to discuss the warning signs of domestic violence. If you need me, just say the word.