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Violence in teenage relationships

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One of the most shocking more recent issues to develop in the lives of young people is that of violence in teenage relationships. Whilst it may not be a completely new thing to deal with the statistics indicate that it is an increasing area of concern. In 2009 a study showed that 27% of girls between 13-17 had experienced sexual violence in their relationships. The same study also found that 14% of boys had experienced some form of violence in their relationships and the NSPCC found that the majority of the perpetrators of these acts of violence were also under the age of 18.

What is domestic abuse?

Abuse at any age is always about the same underlying issue; power and control. If anyone is trying to control another by using fear, threats, intimidation or violence then it is abuse. Domestic violence can take many different forms, physical and sexual abuse are the easiest to spot because they may leave marks and bruises, but emotional, psychological and financial control are also very serious forms of domestic violence. Over time if a situation is allowed to continue things can escalate, what starts as verbal and emotional abuse can often turn into physical violence.

Attitudes in teenagers

One of the main difficulties with this issue is that many young people will justify and condone violence between partners. It has been reported that it’s common for young people to say that cheating on your partner justifies being hit, that if you have been going out a long time it is OK for sex to be expected and forced if necessary and that if boys are turned on beyond a certain level it’s hard for them to control themselves and not force their girlfriends to have sex. All of these messages and beliefs go against basic safety and respect and undermine any sense of personal boundaries.

violent teen relationships

Talk to your teen

If you are a parent of teenagers it is important to at least have a conversation about how to stay safe and what to do if a threatening situation arose. Remind your teens that they deserve love and safety and that compromising this for the sake of status and false security is not a wise choice.

Even if you don’t think it’s something that would happen to your child it is still worth helping them to identify warning signs. Find a way of raising the subject as a general conversation. Ask them what the signs would be for them to raise alarm bells and talk about how easy it can be to confuse things like controlling and jealous behaviour with that of being protective and loving.

Set boundaries

Introduce the idea of a simple guideline that if someone’s behaviour frightens you, restricts you or limits you in any way then it is not for your benefit. Talk to your children about what they think they deserve from their relationships, help them to see that their own self-esteem is paramount in terms of what they put up with and that staying with someone because they don’t feel that they deserve anything better is not a healthy model.

 

 

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About Jenny Smith

About Jenny Smith

Jenny Smith is a freelance writer and facilitator specialising in mental health, well-being and ecotherapy. She writes for National Mind and The Working Parent and facilitates training in the Work that Reconnects and Ecotherapy. She is inspired by nature, gardening, love and non-duality teachings

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