abusive relationship

When Teens are in the Middle of an Abusive Relationship

August 14, 2018

When Teens Are in the Middle of an Abusive Relationship

The teenage years bring on an intense array of emotions, and among these are feelings for a boyfriend of girlfriend. As your teen forms romantic relationships, you may watch him or her grow through many strong feelings, from love to hate. It can be difficult to help your teen through these trying times.

But how do you know if these feelings are the result of normal teenage hormones or if your teen is in a dangerous and abusive relationship? Relationship violence includes emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Even controlling behaviors, such as making decisions where someone goes and keeping tabs on their social media accounts, are considered abuse. It is important that you monitor your teen’s relationships to make sure it is a healthy experience. Also, be aware that both boys and girls can be involved in abusive relationships.


The CDC has defined teen relationship violence as a serious and prevalent issue that can have lasting effects on the teens involved. Some of the statistics they have discovered include:

  • 12% of teenage girls have experienced physical violence in a relationship.
  • 16% of teenage girls have experienced sexual violence in a relationship.
  • 7% of teenage boys have experienced physical violence in a relationship.
  • 5% of teenage boys have experienced sexual violence in a relationship.

Warning Signs

While some signs of abuse, such as the signs of physical abuse, are easy to spot, other signs are more difficult. It is important to look for these signs in your teen, as many teens will not tell you about a problem or do not even realize there is a problem. Many teens, both those being abused and those exhibiting the abusive behaviors, think that their actions are all part of a normal relationship. Here are a few warning signs to look for in your teen:

  • One of the main signs of physical abuse is bruises and sprains that your teen is reluctant to explain. If your child does not want to talk about these marks or gives a flimsy explanations, he or she may be being abused.
  • Another common sign is changes in mood. Your teen may begin to exhibit signs of guilt or shame, even though he or she has done nothing wrong.
  • A teen in an abusive relationship may act secretive. He or she may not want to discuss the relationship with friends and family. He or she may also hide texts and be secretive during phone calls. Another warning sign is a reluctance to bring the significant other around family and friends.
  • Another sign of an abusive relationship is a withdrawal from family, friends and other typical activities. Your teen’s partner may be asserting control over what your teen can and cannot do. The partner may not want your child spending time with other friends or participating in usual activities. Your teen may make strange excuses about why he or she is avoiding others.
  • Many teens in abusive relationships will also have symptoms of depression and anxiety. They may also have frequent mood swings. For these teens, they may not realize that these feelings are a result of the abuse.
  • Teens in abusive relationships may also use substances like drugs and alcohol to help alleviate their feelings of helplessness.

Getting Help

It is not always easy to see the signs and symptoms of an abusive relationship in teens, as their emotions and hormones are often running high. However, abuse is prevalent enough in teen relationships that you must consider the possibility, even if it is difficult to admit that your child is being mistreated. If your child is in an abusive relationship, it may be difficult for him or her to get out, because he or she may be convinced that he or she is in love and that the partner will change. You may not be able to convince your child to leave their partner.

Hillcrest Adolescent Treatment Center offers in-patient treatment programs for teens to help them see the true nature of an abusive relationship. With our treatment, your teen can get out of a dangerous relationship and look forward to healthy relationships in the future.


Abusive Relationships. (n.d.). Retrieved July 24, 2018 from https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/abuse.html

Abusive Relationships in Teens. (n.d.) Retrieved July 24, 2018 from https://teens.webmd.com/boys/features/abusive-relationship-and-teens#2

Teen Dating Violence. (n.d.). Retrieved July 24, 2018 from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/teen_dating_violence.html