February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services says it’s a good idea for parents to discuss the issue with their kids.
DCFS Spokesperson Nisha Patel says abuse can come in several forms. There is physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse, which can include name-calling, spreading rumors, or using social media to get revenge.
Patel says some abuse is easy to spot, while some are much more subtle. She says here are some things parents need to look for.
“If a teenager might be experiencing extreme mood swings or erratic mood swings that could potentially be an indicator that something is not right with the intimate relationship they are in. Isolation could also be another key sign where you might see that an individual is being possessive or exerting controlling behavior.”
Other signs include grades dropping or suddenly loosing interest in goals.
Patel says it’s important for parents to talk with their teens about healthy relationships, and how physical abuse, controlling behavior, and pressure to have sex is not okay.
“I think one of the most important messages is along with the sentiment that your children or your teen or individuals that even teachers are working with need to hear is- they are not alone. There is help out there, there is support out there. There is no judgment, there is no blame
Patel says one resource for teens in an abusive relationship is the Illinois Domestic Violence Hot Line which can be reached by dialing 1-877-TO-END-DV. They can also visit the website at loveisrespect.org