Is your teen in an abusive relationship?

No parent wants to believe it, but teen dating violence is more prevalent than many realize. Nearly 7-10% of high school students in the U.S. have reported being involved in an abusive or violent relationship, according to Dr. Rochelle David, an OB/GYN at University Health.

Teen Dating Abuse

The abuse can be physical, sexual or emotional. It can happen in person or through digital means, such as phone calls, texting, social media or other online platforms. 

Similar to adults, teens may be reluctant to discuss the abusive behavior. It is common for the teen to feel shame, embarrassment or fear associated with the situation. Parents can help their teen by encouraging open and honest communication about their experiences. 

Dr. David discusses ways to spot dating violence and how parents can support their teens who may be experiencing dating abuse.

Warning Signs Your Teen Might Be Experiencing Abuse

Caregivers may notice a change in their teen’s behavior if the adolescent is involved in an abusive dating relationship. “It’s important to note that it’s not just one specific sign that says this 100% is a sign that something bad is happening in the relationship, but it certainly raises red flags,” Dr. David said.

Warning signs include:

  • The teen’s mood has changed, or they are depressed or withdrawn
  • Doing poorly in school or withdrawing from activities that they previously enjoyed
  • Physical signs, such as unexplained bruises or cuts
  • Wearing clothes that are not appropriate for the weather, such as wearing a sweatshirt during the summer heat in Texas

Red Flags in Your Teen’s Partner

The following warning signs may indicate that your teen’s friend or partner is becoming more controlling. These behaviors could lead to abuse or violence so they should be addressed quickly.

  • They are monitoring your teen’s activities or phone calls/texts
  • They frequently appear unannounced
  • They are giving your teen unwanted attention
  • Their actions are causing your teen to be uneasy or fearful

Teen Health Clinic at University Health

University Health’s Teen Health Clinic provides integrated care for pre-teens, teens and young adults, ages 10-24. The clinic is specifically designed to treat adolescents and encourages teens to take an active role in their care. 

The main clinic is located at University Health’s Robert B. Green campus. Other University Health community clinics have designated teen health resources as well.

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