An alarming number of teenage girls are being controlled or abused by their boyfriends by the time they graduate from high school. As a parent, you must know the signs of abuse in order to stop it. Dr. Jill Murray's warning signs can help you prevent your daughter from being a victim.
The Warning Signs:
- Isolation: Does your daughter have fewer friends than she did before meeting her boyfriend? This speaks to the isolation that an abusive boy imposes on a girlfriend. He might isolate her first from her friends, then from her outside activities and then her family. She can then become emotionally dependent on him, and find it difficult to leave.
- Emotional Changes: In the early infatuation stage of any relationship girls are often happy. Once the boy becomes abusive, she begins feeling sad and desperate. She may cry more or want to be alone.
- Constant Communication: Does your daughter's boyfriend constantly call or text her, and she must call him back immediately? He might ask her where she is, what she's doing, who she's with, what time she'll be back and how many other boys she has spoken to.
- Jealousy Issues: You might notice the boyfriend's jealousy. If your daughter looks at or speaks casually with another boy, does he get upset? Did he tell her that he loved her early in the relationship? This is his "hook." Your daughter might find this romantic, but it could be another red flag for jealousy and issues with control.
- The Boyfriend's Background: If your daughter's boyfriend comes from a tragic home life, it could mean trouble. He might not be far behind in his parent's footsteps if they use drugs or are abusive to him or each other.
- The Need to Impress: When he gives her "advice" about her choice in friends, hairstyle, clothes or makeup, notice if she's following his every word. Your daughter is likely in complete denial and may be in fear of what he will do to her if she doesn't change.
- Making Excuses for Him: Your daughter might stick-up for her boyfriend, defending his words and actions. Don't let her denial force you to ignore your gut! He may have convinced her that she's too sensitive when he calls her names or told her he's "only kidding."
Most importantly, if you keep the line of communication open with her, you'll be able to notice more signs. For more information, call the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline at 866-331-9474 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE.