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What If Your Child Is Experiencing Dating Abuse?

If your child tells you that he/she has been abused, or if you suspect dating abuse, you will probably experience a variety of feelings. You may get angry or perhaps feel guilty or helpless for not being able to protect your child. It may be difficult to get through this situation as a family, but there are things you can do as a parent to help your child and yourself.

Stay calm as your reaction will affect how your child responds to the situation. Avoid threatening to hurt a dating partner to get revenge. This only makes your child less likely to tell you about any abuse. Instead, create a safe environment for communication and reassure your child that you will not point blame. Allow your child time to express what is going on, and do not be offended or upset if he/she pulls away. If this happens, express that you respect his/her privacy but are also concerned for his/her safety, as this is your responsibility as a parent.

Remind your child that you care and thank him/her for opening up. Researching different community resources such as hotlines and counselors who are available to help your child and the rest of the family deal with the situation can be helpful.

If you think your child has an injury, go straight to your regular pediatrician or the emergency room.

It is important to report abuse to law enforcement and to pursue prosecution. Don't allow any further contact between your child and the alleged offender. Seek help in setting up a restraining order and document the actions you've taken and the responses you receive.