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Dating violence is domestic violence. However, many teens who are the victims of domestic abuse by their romantic partners don't realize that they're being abused until the violence escalates out of control.

If you have a teenager, it's important to discuss the realities of dating violence and domestic abuse with your child. How serious is the issue? Consider this: The Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) says that about 23 percent of young women and 14 percent of young men are the victims of intimate partner violence before they get to their 18th birthday.

What should you talk about when you discuss domestic violence with your teen?

1. The symptoms of domestic abuse

Make sure that your teen recognizes unhealthy behaviors in others and knows how to spot the early signs that a relationship is abusive. For example, teens should be leery whenever an intimate partner:

  • Uses threats or guilt to get their way
  • Is physically aggressive or violent, even as a "joke"
  • Presses for sex or intimacy while ignoring stated boundaries
  • Engages in name calling or insults
  • Demands constant attention
  • Demands access to all private communications
  • Interferes with other relationships

Make sure that your teen understands that this kind of behavior is not normal or acceptable in a partner.

2. The ability to halt the behavior

Your teen may feel like they have no choice but to tolerate the abusive behavior of a partner because they're fearful. Abusers are excellent at figuring out how to intimidate someone in order to control them, even when they don't live together.

Make sure that your child knows that California considers teens to be just as deserving of protection as adults when it comes to domestic violence. You and your teen can file for a protective order that will keep an abusive partner at bay.

Remember, the signs of domestic abuse are not always obvious. As a parent, it's your job to ask questions if you suspect that your teen's boyfriend or girlfriend is being abusive.

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