Learning how to identify people we can trust is one of the first lessons we teach our children and continue to revisit throughout their development. What is a parent or caregiver to do when they feel their child or teen is engaged in one or more relationships that may not be supportive, healthy, or even safe?
According to the CDC, teen dating violence impacts millions of teens. In fact, data suggests that 26% of women and 15% of men experienced intimate partner violence for the first time before age 18.1 We know these numbers increase significantly when we look at specific communities, particularly those who identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, or Persons of Color) and/or young LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) youth. According to the Urban Institute, transgender youth reported the highest rate of dating violence, with 88.9% reporting physical dating violence.2 The statistics are alarming, and chances are you may know someone who has been a victim of dating violence or experienced an unsafe relationship.
Unhealthy/unsafe relationships may include:
- Appearing on-edge, nervous, or unhappy
- Withdrawing from family and social supports, partner limits their contact with others or creates a wedge in those relationships
- Decline in academic or work performance
- Disengaged from activities or interests
- Displaying low self-esteem or questioning self-worth
- Unexplained injuries or bruises
- Apparent imbalance of power in the relationship
- Partner may use name-calling, teasing, ridiculing tactics, or gaslighting
- Partner displays controlling behaviors such as monitoring the individual through social media, constantly asking them where they are and who they are with, not allowing the individual to
- make their own choices
- Physical abuse, threats, intimidation, or violent gestures
- Sexual abuse which may include unwanted touching, non-consensual sexual behaviors, attempted or forced sexual activities, threatening or intimidation to perform sexual acts, or rape
- Blackmailing, revenge porn, threatening to “out” someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity
If any of the above describes what your child or teen is experiencing, counseling may be beneficial. In counseling, your child or teen is afforded a confidential space to speak freely and process their feelings. Children and young people are often looking for someone to just listen and validate them, which is what our professional counselors can do. Through a safe and non-judgmental approach, they can begin to recognize and differentiate the characteristics of healthy vs unhealthy relationships. We can also help your child or adolescent repair the damage that toxic relationships can have on their self-esteem, confidence, and overall wellbeing.
If your child or teen has been impacted by an unhealthy or unsafe relationship and needs support, our affiliated professional counselors are here to help. They practice child-friendly evidence-based techniques such as play, art, and sandtray in their therapy. They may also utilize psychoeducation and empowerment models. Give our office a call today and let’s schedule a time to talk.