Here are some things you may want to do when supporting you child 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's scary for most teens to talk to parents about dating in general. So if they come to you and disclose what's happening, ensure them you're a safe person, and that you want to understand them and won't judge them.
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 so they know you're still available when/if they are ready to leave.
RESPECT THEIR RELATIONSHIP
Avoid phrases like, "This is why I told you not tot date until you're older," or, "You're too young to be going through this," or, "It's not really love." Although that may be how you feel, your child's relationship is real and so is the abuse.
When you speak about the abuse, speak about the behaviors, not the person. They may still be in love, and talking bad about your child's dating partner will probably discourage them from asking for your 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 their 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.
- Help them 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