Red Flags/Warning Signs of Teen Dating Violence
Teenagers generally do not tell people when they are involved in a violent relationship, so it is important for adults to be alert for signs that a teen may be involved in a relationship that is, or has the potential to become, abusive. Some of the following signs are just part of being a teenager. But, when these changes happen suddenly, or without an explanation, there may be cause for concern.
- Does the individual have unexplained bruises, scratches, or injuries?
- Do you see signs that the individual is afraid of his/her boyfriend or girlfriend?
- Does the boyfriend or girlfriend seem to try to control the individual’s behavior, making all of the decisions, checking up on his/her behavior, demanding to know who the individual has been with, and acting jealous and possessive?
- Does the boyfriend or girlfriend lash out, criticize, or insult the individual?
- Does the individual apologize for the boyfriend or girlfriend’s behavior to you and others? Has the individual casually mentioned the boyfriend or girlfriend’s temper or violent behavior, but then laughed it off as a joke?
- Have you seen the boyfriend or girlfriend be abusive towards other people or things?
- Does the individual seem to have lost interest or to be giving up things that were once important? Has he/she lost interest in school or other activities?
- Has the individual's appearance or behavior suddenly changed?
- Has the individual stopped spending time with friends and family?
- Have you seen sudden changes in the individual’s mood or personality?
- Is the individual becoming anxious or depressed, acting out, or being secretive? Is the individual avoiding eye contact, having ‘crying jags’ or getting ‘hysterical?’
- Has the individual recently started using alcohol or drugs?
Someone who is in an abusive relationship may:
- Change their style of clothing or makeup
- Seem to lose confidence in themselves and begin to have difficulty making decisions;
- Stop spending time with you and other friends;
- Begin to receive failing grades or quit school activities; and Turn to using alcohol or drugs.
If you suspect a friend is in a violent relationship, you might try to find out for sure by saying something like, "You don't seem as happy as usual," or asking in general terms, "Is there anything you want to talk about?" This non-confrontational and indirect approach may prompt your friend to reveal what's wrong. Listen without judging, condemning, or giving unwanted advice. If a friend wants help, suggest that he or she take the steps listed above in order to be safe and find help.
If you believe your friend is in serious danger, talk with an adult you trust immediately about your friend's situation so that you aren't carrying the burden by yourself. Do not try to "rescue" your friend or be a hero and try to handle the situation on your own.