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Advice for Parents
Knowing that your son or daughter is in an unhealthy relationship can be both frustrating and frightening. But, as a parent, you’re critical in helping your child develop healthy relationships and can provide life-saving support if they’re in an abusive relationship. Remember, abuse occurs in both same-sex and opposite-sex couples and either gender can be abusive.
What Do I Need to Know?
You can look for some early warning signs of abuse that can help you identify if your child is in an abusive relationship before it’s too late. Some of these signs include:
- Your child’s partner is extremely jealous or possessive.
- You notice unexplained marks or bruises.
- Your child’s partner emails or texts excessively.
- You notice that your son or daughter is depressed or anxious.
- Your son or daughter stops participating in extracurricular activities.
- Your child stops spending time with other friends and family.
- Your child’s partner abuses other people or animals.
- Your child begins to dress differently.
Remember that ultimately your child must be the one who decides to leave the relationship. There are many complex reasons why victims stay in unhealthy relationships. Your support can make a critical difference in helping your son or daughter find their own way to end their unhealthy relationship.
What Can I Do?
Tell your child you’re concerned for their safety. Point out that what’s happening isn’t “normal.” Everyone deserves a safe and healthy relationship. Offer to connect your son or daughter with West Wales Domestic Abuse Service, who they can talk to confidentially.
- Be supportive and understanding. Stress that you’re on their side. Provide information and non-judgmental support. Let your son or daughter know that it’s not their fault and no one “deserves” to be abused. Make it clear that you don’t blame them and you respect their choices.
- Believe them and take them seriously. Your child may be reluctant to share their experiences in fear of no-one believing what they say. As you validate their feelings and show your support, they can become more comfortable and trust you with more information. Be careful not to minimize your child’s situation due to age, inexperience or the length of their relationship.
- Help develop a safety plan. One of the most dangerous times in an abusive relationship is when the victim decides to leave. Be especially supportive during this time and try to connect your child to support groups or professionals that can help keep them safe.