Expert on domestic and teen dating violence Jill Murray, offers advice for parents on how to spot warning signs of emotional and physical abuse and ways for teens to avoid abusive behavior in relationships.
Warning Signs: A Girl May Be in A Dangerous Relationship If...
Before she met her boyfriend, she had more friends than she does now.
Her grades have declined in the past weeks or months.
Before she began dating him, she was more outgoing and involved with her family, school activities, and/or place of worship.
She frequently cries or is very sad.
If he calls or texts her, she must get back to him immediately.
He told her that he loved her early in their relationship.
He is jealous if she looks at or speaks casually with another boy.
He accuses her of behavior she doesn't actually engage in.
He is aggressive in other areas of his life: he puts his fist through walls or closets, bangs his fist to make a point, or throws things when angry.
He frequently roughhouses or play-wrestles with her.
She makes excuses for his poor behavior or says it's her fault.
He calls and texts her many times an hour, frequently between midnight and 5 a.m.
He has a "tragic" home life: he is or was physically abused or verbally demeaned, and/or one or both parents are alcoholics or use drugs.
He drinks or uses drugs.
He frequently gives her "advice" about her choice of friends, hairstyle, clothes, or makeup.
He calls her demeaning names, then laughs and tells her he was only kidding or that she's too sensitive.
She has become secretive since she started dating him.
She has recently become very critical of her appearance, talents, or abilities.
She frequently has to explain herself to her boyfriend or often says she's sorry.
She has bruises she cannot explain or appears nervous about explaining.
How A Girl Can Protect Herself From Abusers:
1. Stay away from boys who put you down, talk negatively about women, or drink and/or use drugs.
2. Don't get involved with a boy who doesn't ask for your opinion or doesn't respect your or your decisions.
3. Set sexual limits and communicate them clearly. Most teenage boys say, "I'll go as far as the girl will let me."
4. Stay sober in social situations.
5. Don't make boys guess what you want—tell them.
6. When on a date, remain in control. Have an alternate transportation plan in case the date isn't going as you would like and you want to go home. Do not rely on your date to bring you home.
7. Listen to and trust your feelings and instincts.
8. As soon as you feel threatened, forget about being a "nice girl."
9. Take care of yourself. Don't assume someone else will.
10. If a boy tries to use physical force and you must defend yourself, do not hit him in the stomach, shoulders, or back. These are the strongest parts of his body. Target the kneecaps, heels, eyes, or crotch. If possible, do not stay and fight. Flee! You have 15 minutes of an adrenaline surge, which will give you energy and extraordinary strength. Use it to run, get help, and yell, "Call 911" or "Fire!"
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE