If your teen is not dating someone, ask "When you think about going out with someone, what are some behaviors that would be okay, and what are some that you would have a problem with?"

Be prepared for the possibility that there is indeed violence in your son's or daughter's relationship. How will you respond? You may feel guilty, blaming yourself for not seeing the problem sooner. Before doing anything else, stop, take a breath and remember this is really about your teen.

Start by letting your daughter know that you love her. Thank her for trusting you, and tell her she can always talk to you about it. Ending any relationship takes time, and it can be even harder when abuse is involved. While it may feel frustrating and scary, it is not a good idea to forbid your daughter from seeing her boyfriend. This won't make her safe—it will just make her stop confiding in you about the problem. Ask her, "What can we do to help you?" She might not have the answer, but she needs to feel in control. Find a counselor who specializes in teen dating violence and continue to support her by being loving, open and nonjudgmental. Contact a domestic violence agericy or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-SAFE) for advice on how to handle your daughter's particular situation.

If your son confides in you that he has become violent in his relationship, you need to support him as well. Let him know that you love him and that you don't think he is a terrible person. Nevertheless, be firm in letting him know that his behavior has to change. Offer to help him by locating community resources that can provide counseling. Look honestly at your own actions and the behaviors you have modeled in your home, and take responsibility if you have instilled in your son ideas that may have influenced his abusive behavior. Let him know that he can come and talk to you about this anytime without fear of punishment.

How can you help a teen who is being abused
© Liz Claiborne Inc.'s Love Is Not Abuse campaign,


Next Story