What are the warning signs of teen relationship abuse?

If you have recognized warning signs of abuse in your relationship, be proud of yourself. You have taken the first step to getting help. So now what? Leaving can be more complicated than it seems, but there are many resources available to help you.

What Do I Need to Know?

If you are in an abusive relationship, you’re probably feeling confusing emotions about what to do. You may fear what your partner will do if you leave, or how your friends and family will react when you tell them about the abuse.  You might also think that the police and other adults won’t take you seriously if you report the abuse. These are all understandable reasons to feel nervous about leaving your partner, but staying in the abusive relationship isn’t your only option.

What Can I Do?

Ultimately, none of the above obstacles are worth staying in an abusive relationship, although they can make it feel scary to end it. Whether or not you are ready or able to leave, there are steps you can take to help keep yourself safe:

• Talk to someone (friend, parent, teacher, counselor) that you trust. They can help you deal with your feelings and support you during this time.

• Create a safety plan to reduce your risk of being hurt by your partner. Because you think through it ahead of time, your personalized safety plan can help you avoid dangerous situations and know the best way to react when you are in danger.

• Learn about your legal rights. You may be able to get a restraining order against your partner. Restraining orders may also protect you from harassment from your partner’s friends and family.

• Contact one of the helpful and confidential resources available to assist you if you are concerned about being outed, taken seriously, or affecting your immigration status.  We can help connect you to those resources.

Some things to keep in mind when thinking about breaking up:

• Your relationship has probably been a large part of your life. If you feel lonely after the break up, talk to friends or find a new activity to help fill your time.

• Because of the significance of the relationship in your life, it is normal to miss your partner after the break-up. Don’t let yourself forget that you’re leaving for important reasons.

• Breaking up with an abusive partner can be a dangerous time. If you don’t feel safe, break up with your partner over the phone or with a friend waiting nearby. Let your family and friends know you’re planning on breaking up so they can support you and help keep you safe during this time. And if you are ever in immediate danger, call the police.

For information about support groups on this issue contact tish@talk2tish.com

So, you want to communicate with your teenager?

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Are you a lucky parent raising a teenager in today’s world? Pretty scary! We all want our kids to like us. We know they love us, but liking us is another thing entirely. We want communication open and flowing – how do we make this happen?

Does this sound familiar?

You: “How was school?”

Teen:  “Fine.”

You: “What did you do today?”

Teen: “Nothing.”

When was the last time you spent some one on one time with your teen?  How can you have a good relationship with your teenager? Nothing takes the place of getting involved and interested in your teen’s life. We often think of quality time for very young children, but this term still applies when they are teenagers. We forget about it because they’ve seemingly reached that age of “not wanting to be seen with us.”

It’s really the quality of time, not the quantity.  It may take a bit of work to figure out the best way to do this, but trust me, it’s worth it!  What do you think they might say if you asked them to teach YOU something that they’re good at?  Ask them to teach you the “quirks” of texting so that you can communicate with them on their terms.  Ask them what they like best about what they’re studying and YOU study up on that subject so that you have another commonality.  Take walks, hike, bike, attend art, music or dance classes, etc.  Make sure it’s their choice of activity.  Don’t go to the movies unless you both commit to 15-30 minutes of discussion of the movie once it’s over.  The object of this exercise is to communicate, not be entertained.

Do you really Listen to them?

Always pay really close attention to what your teens are saying to you.  Look them straight in the eyes and let them know you care about what they are saying!  When they realize you’re really interested, they typically will let go and really talk to you.  You’ve got to be prepared to stop what you’re doing and listen if they want to talk.  They want to share something with you!  How cool is that?  Isn’t this what we’re striving for?

Everyone has ridiculous schedules in today’s world.  Finding family time can also be difficult, but to keep communication open, you have to make the time.  Meals are a terrific place to start. Try to have at least one if not more sit-down family meals per week. Find a common topic for conversation, and let the family know ahead of time so that everyone can find a tidbit or two to add to the conversation.

Now here’s the glitch – even if you don’t agree with their opinions, find a way to listen, really listen to theirs.  This can be a difficult task, as it can be hard to really listen when all you want to do is tell them your opinion about something with which you don't agree. Whatever you do – Don’t judge them!  It may be best to admit there is a disagreement  and postpone the discussion until you can calm down and be rational.  Then you can go back and say something like, “I’m not sure I agree with all you said, and there are some things I don’t understand.  Let me think about this and we’ll pick it up tomorrow night at dinner.”  By setting a deadline for the conversation, you are acknowledging the importance of their opinion to you, and they will come back to finish up.  Isn’t communication the goal?