Having a teen dating in today’s world is quite a challenge! Because so many teens are accepting some level of abuse as “normal” in relationships, knowing the warning signs of a potentially abusive relationship become critical.
1. Relationship becomes very serious quickly
This is probably what signals a troubled relationship from the very beginning. There are no established boundaries and the teens are saying they love one another from their very first date or shortly thereafter. They will sneak out of the house at night, lie about where they are, or move in together after a short period of time. One teen might pressure the other for a serious commitment or want to get engaged after a few months of dating!
2. Controlling behaviors
Again, one member in the relationship begins to exert control over the other. He (pronoun will be used because more boys abuse than girls) tells his girlfriend what to wear, what she should eat, who she can be with when not with him, etc.
Extreme jealousy is a form of controlling behavior.
3. Isolating girl/boyfriend
No longer can the teens relate freely to their parents. The boyfriend monopolizes and dictates whom she is allowed to spend her time. They spend large amounts of time together at the exclusion of friends and family.
4. Verbal abuse
The boy or girl friend manipulates the other by calling them names, swearing at them, and putting them down. For example, he may call her “stupid”, “idiot”, “slut”, and other similar names to strike at her personhood.
Breaking up from one of these relationships is not easy either, but it is far easier to in the beginning when the red flags present themselves than when greater damage has been inflicted. Unfortunately, teens stay in relationships that are unhealthy unless they receive help to get disengaged.
NOTE: you can freely redistribute this resource, electronically or in print, provided you leave the author’s contact information below intact.
Author: Evelyn Wenzel, MSW, LCSW, CAP