First at Four: Know the warning signs of a violent teen relationship

First at Four: Know the warning signs of a violent teen relationship

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

Thursday on WECT News First at Four, we're taking a closer look at the warning signs, what parents should know and what teens should do if they find themselves in this situation.

"Teen dating violence consists of a variety of behaviors used to exercise power and control over the victim," said Jaime Andrews from Clarity Counseling in Wilmington.

According to Andrews, it generally follows a typical abuse cycle which includes a tension building phase, an explosion and a honeymoon phase.

Forms of violence can include physical, verbal, emotional, psychological, sexual and digital abuse.

Warning signs expressed by the victim can include:
• Sudden changes in appearance, diet, or sleeping habits 
• Failing grades or dropping out of school activities
• Sudden changes in mood or personality
• Becoming secretive or withdrawn

Warning signs of a violent dating partner: 
• Is jealous, possessive and controlling 
• Blames the victim for what is wrong
• Experiences violent outbursts including breaking or hitting things
• Constantly calls, texts, or checks up on the victim

Advice for parents:
• Start talking to your children about healthy relationships well before they start dating
• Teach your children to respect themselves
• Always keep the lines of communication open and encourage your child to come to you
• If you suspect your teen is the victim of dating violence, make sure your teen knows you are there to help. Express your concern for your teen, but keep the focus on your teen, not the abuser
• Get advice and resources from a domestic violence agency.

Where to go for help:
• National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE
• www.loveisrespect.org
• www.breakthecycle.org

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