Signs Your Child is in an Abusive Relationship

It’s the end of February, the month of love! We saw hearts decorated everywhere between schools’ windows, our local coffee shops, and even our local grocery stores. In our experience working with pre-teens and teens, we hear all about what they are getting their significant other for Valentine’s Day. They love to share how they decorated their valentine’s locker, their favorite candies, and what small gifts they can buy them.

There is a darker side we have seen when it comes to relationships though, and that is the ugly signs of an abusive relationship. Teens may think that some drama in their relationship isn’t too bad or may even believe that jealousy is considered, “cute.”

However, relationships can be abusive in three main ways:  1-verbal, 2-physical or/and 3-mental. According to

Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence — almost triple the national average.

Among female victims of intimate partner violence, 94% of those age 16-19 and 70% of those age 20-24 were victimized by a current or former boyfriend or girlfriend.

Violent behavior typically begins between the ages of 12 and 18.

The severity of intimate partner violence is often greater in cases where the pattern of abuse was established in adolescence.

We have compiled a list of signs that your child is in any of these forms of an abusive relationship:
  • Unexplained marks on your child: Bruises, cuts, or burns on your child’s body.
  • Your teen is worrying and nearly panicked when they can’t text or call their significant other back immediately: They continue to say they do not want their partner to be upset and need to get back to them. They seem frazzled when they don’t check-in with their partner.
  • Your teen’s partner is extremely jealous or possessive: Which leads your teen to limiting their time with their friends, family, or commitments. If your teen is confronted, they may make excuses for the jealousy.
  • Your teen seems depressed, anxious, isolated, and just hangs out with their significant other: They are no longer hanging out with their friends and they spend limited time with your family.
  • Your teen’s style starts to change: Often being more reserved clothing and when prompted why the change in style, the answer is vague or your child puts themselves down. You might see more and more body shaming.
  • Your teen shows fear about how their significant other might react to a situation: Worrying about angering the person. They are more fearful and can be more jumpy when approached abruptly.
  • Your teen’s mood and personality is changing since they started dating the person: They are acting out of character or seem like a totally different person when surrounded by their significant other.

These are a few signs that there is something wrong in this relationship and that you should talk to someone for help. Sometimes confronting your teen right away can cause them to run to their partner. This can cause a greater gap between you two. Try to have open conversations and build trust to create a safe place for your child to share.  We have provided some resources for help

The National Domestic Abuse Hotline

National Dating Abuse Helpline

National Resource Center on Domestic Violence

Please remember you are not alone, and we and others are here to help in any ways that we can.

We love you all,

The Bulldog Staff

Written by:
Alex Arriaga
Social Media Strategist and Consultant