If your child came home with a black eye or broken bones, you'd go into parental overdrive. Getting to the bottom of the hows, whens, and whointheworldidthistoyous would be your first priority.
Not all teens have visible marks when they're in an abusive relationship, which is what makes them even more dangerous. In fact, your daughter's overly attentive boyfriend could be causing as much damage as a slap in the face.
A recent survey showed 24% of children ages 14 to 17 are aware of a physically abusive dating relationship at their school, but 81% of parents don't believe that dating violence is an issue.
We need to wake up.
Constant checking in, insults, and isolation are all techniques abusers use to gain control over the abused. Really sneaky abusive partners take these actions under the guise of "love" and "concern." What's even scarier, teens today are so easily available; technology is simply another way to intimidate the victim of abuse -- even when the abuser is nowhere around.
Just reading over the handbooks for parents and teens at Love Is Not Abuse, I'm overwhelmed by all of the things I have never considered. I use a BlackBerry, but never thought of it as a tool for an abuser. I've always maintained we keep the computers in a family area, so the kids don't have extended amounts of private time -- but that doesn't mean they won't have access to Facebook accounts elsewhere.
Tentacles of connection have many advantages, but in the hands of an abusive partner, it's downright terrifying how thoroughly someone could threaten your child without you even knowing what was happening.
Download these handbooks and let your teen know about the website and teen abuse hot line, Love Is Respect. Whether they need to anonymously talk about an unhealthy relationship or refer a friend to the site, make sure they know there is help available when feeling trapped.
Image via lindawoods/Flickr