Dominique King Lean in with Love

Helping teen through abusive relationship

Dominique King Lean in with Love(May 24, 2024) — Q. As a concerned mother, I’m deeply troubled by my teenage son’s relationship, which seems to have the potential for violence. His girlfriend’s explosive outbursts, along with incidents where she has damaged his personal belongings and verbally berates him, are alarming. Despite our efforts to intervene and discourage their relationship, my son continues to reconcile with her or see her secretly. I’m genuinely fearful that my son might suffer serious harm or get into trouble because of this situation. What steps can I take to protect him? – Camilia

A. It’s incredibly distressing to see someone we care about potentially facing harm, especially when they seem unable to extricate themselves from a troubling situation. The statistics on domestic violence in teen relationships paint a concerning picture. Approximately one in three adolescents in the United States will experience physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner before they reach adulthood.

Sadly, teen dating violence is often underreported due to factors such as fear, shame and lack of awareness about what constitutes abuse. Boys may be less likely to report abuse due to societal expectations about masculinity.
Victims of teen dating violence are more likely to experience long-term negative effects on their physical and mental health. In light of these alarming statistics, here are some steps you can take to support your son.

Supporting your child

Listen with empathy. Give your son the space to express his thoughts and emotions without judgment. It’s crucial for him to feel heard and understood, even if his perspective differs from yours.

Provide education about domestic violence. Help your son understand the dynamics of abusive relationships, including the signs of potential violence. Find interactive outings or outlets that discuss domestic violence. Doing this gives him the opportunity to make internal connections.

Provide access to resources. Leave informational pamphlets around the house where he might pick them up and browse through. These pamphlets can offer counseling services and support groups that your son can turn to for assistance.

Bring in the other side. Communicate your expectations regarding his relationship with his girlfriend and her parents or guardians. Be firm about your concerns for his safety and well-being and express that you cannot condone behavior that puts him or her at risk.

Involve trusted adults. Consider enlisting the support of other trusted adults in your son’s life, such as family members, teachers or mentors. Sometimes, hearing concerns from other men can be vital.

Seek professional help. If your son continues to downplay the seriousness of the situation, consider obtaining guidance from a therapist or counselor who specializes in adolescent relationships and domestic violence.

Ensure immediate safety. If you believe your son is in imminent danger, take swift action to ensure his safety. This may involve contacting law enforcement or seeking a restraining order against his girlfriend if necessary.
Above all, continue to be present and available.

For more information, call the domestic violence hotline at 800-799-7233.

Be well. You are worthy.

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Dominique King
Dominique King

Dominique King is a blogger who centers around marriage, family, fitness and personal growth. Her insightful and practical approach to advice gives everyday couples, parents and individuals a space to get answers to their questions.