Here are some supportive things to do if your child is experiencing abuse.
LISTEN & BE SUPPORTIVE
When your child is speaking, be supportive and don't accuse them. Let them know it's not their fault and that you don't blame them. It can be scary for teens to talk to parents about dating, so if they come to you and disclose what's happening, ensure them that you're a safe person and that you want to understand them without judgement.
Resist the urge to give them ultimatums. You want your child to be truly ready to walk away. Your child knows their relationship better than you do, and if staying in the relationship is what they decide right now, support them! Help them know you're still available when / if they decide to leave.
RESPECT THEIR RELATIONSHIP
Avoid phrases like, "This is why I told you not to date until you're older," or, "You're too young to be going through this," or, "It's not really love." Although this may be how you feel, your child's relationship is real and so is the abuse.
When you speak about the abuse, call out the behaviors, not the person. They may still be in love with the abuser, and talking bad about your child's dating partner will likely discourage them from asking for help in the future.
TAKE STEPS TOGETHER
When talking to your child about a safety plan or what to do next, it should be their decision. Ask what they want to do and how you can support them. If they aren't comfortable talking to you about it, help connect them with additional support, such as TAP808 or another local organization.
Be sure not to take steps they don't want, like forcing them to change schools or taking legal action. Don't forget, at the end of the day, it's their decision.
It's never too early to start talking about healthy relationships. Here are some ways you can get the conversation going.
Teach them to consider and advocate for what they deserve in a healthy relationship (friendship or dating)
Ask them what makes them feel loved or appreciated and how to reciprocate for others
Encourage them to be honest about what they want or need, even when they're nervous
Empower them to establish boundaries and what they're okay or not okay with
Never force them to show or receive affection (even with family)
Encourage them to make their own decisions about who and what they are comfortable with
Normalize conversations about consent
Teach them to always ask for permission and respect when the answer is no
Have a conversation about what it means to respect others
Create a safe space for them to discuss what they are seeing or experiencing on TV , in music, from their peers, in a dating relationship, etc.
Teach them to listen to their gut feelings about situations and respect their instincts
Promote healthy communication and listening skills
Encourage them to be comfortable with their sexuality and how they choose to identify
Equip them with the tools and skills to advocate for their classmates, friends, and community