Perhaps you don’t like your daughter’s boyfriend. He texts her constantly and has pulled her away from her friends, family and former activities. He puts her down and she’s become sullen and withdrawn. The relationship just doesn’t seem healthy to you.
Your parental instincts are likely right. According to Safe Homes of Orange County – a not-for-profit agency dedicated to assisting survivors of domestic violence, teen-dating violence, and human trafficking, 80 percent of teens report knowing someone their age that has experienced dating violence – and 1 in 3 will experience it themselves.
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Watching for signs
While it is difficult to acknowledge that your child could be a victim, it is even more difficult to realize that your child could be a perpetrator. According to breakingthecycle.org, things to look for when observing a relationship include:
- Apologizing/making excuses for a partner’s behavior
- Loss of interest in activities
- Stops seeing friends and family members
- Extreme jealousy and possessiveness by partner
- Partner’s complaints that parents don’t like him
- Controls behavior/checking up constantly/wanting to know where partner’s been
- Violent behavior mentioned causally or laughed off as a joke
- Witnessed violent lose partner’s temper, striking or breaking objects
- Unexplained injuries or explanations that don’t make sense
Safe Homes offers a 24-hour hotline, a shelter, one-on-one counseling, support groups and advocacy through their Teen Dating Violence Prevention program. Youth Educator Alex Boswell works with teens, parents, and teachers to educate and help end abuse.
“There are statistics that say that those who grow up witnessing domestic violence continue to be victims or perpetrators,” Boswell says. “But I like to point out that more than half grow up not to continue the cycle. Programs like ours help.”
Linda Freeman is a freelance writer in Marlboro.