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Teen Dating Violence: What To Do If Your Teen is Abusive

Written by Evolve's Behavioral Health Content Team​:

Alyson Orcena, LMFT, Melissa Vallas, MD, Shikha Verma, MD, Ellen Bloch, LCSW, Lianne Tendler, LMFT, Megan Johnston, LMFT

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If you discover your teen is violent or abusive toward their signifcant other, you need to do something about it. Read this list – and if you feel like you’re out of your depth, pay special attention to #10: Get Professional Help.

Ten Steps to Take Right Away

  1. Do not ignore it. Hiding your head in the sand will only make things worse.
  2. Get your teen out of the relationship right away. You need to protect the other teen. Make them stop all contact: no texts, no calls, no social media, no pressuring their friends, none of that whatsoever.
  3. Separate the behavior from the person. If your teen is abusing someone, it means they have a problem that you need to help them resolve.
  4. Acknowledge their feelings. Recognize and understand their emotions, but do not validate their actions. Your teen needs to understand that any type of abuse – emotional, physical, or social – is unacceptable.
  5. Get to the root. Find out what’s making your teen so angry. The reasons do not condone the behavior, but understanding is the first step toward stopping it.
  6. Model appropriate behavior. Make absolutely sure that you are not being abusive to anyone in your life. Parents are teen’s first examples: if there’s abuse or a history of abuse in your home, then that’s likely to be the root cause.
  7. Teach social and emotional skills. Remind your teen to focus on empathy and compassion. Victims of abuse can suffer long-term physical and emotional consequences.
  8. Teach appropriate boundaries. Show your teen that in healthy relationships, clear emotional and physical boundaries exist.
  9. Teach them how to handle conflict. Teach your teen there are productive ways to disagree, even when the feelings are raw and the emotions are intense.
  10. Get professional help. Seek the help of a fully licensed and credentialed psychiatrist or therapist.


Our Behavioral Health Content Team

We are an expert team of behavioral health professionals who are united in our commitment to adolescent recovery and well-being.

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