By Jenn Rockefeller
Being a teenager is hard enough as it is. When abusive relationships are added into a teen’s already confusing world, things can get even more complicated.
If you’re a teen and you think you’re in an abusive relationship, a bunch of questions could be racing through your mind. Do you tell anyone? Do you stay silent? Do you try to work it out for yourself? But what if things seem like they are getting out of control? What then? How do you begin to figure everything out? It all seems so jumbled up. You decide you want to talk to your parents, but you aren’t sure how and where to start.
Tips to starting a conversation
Starting a conversation with your parents is not easy. Maybe you’re afraid that they’ll judge you or that they won’t understand. You might be surprised–they may know more than you think. Here’s just a few tips on how you can approach your parents:
- Time and place – Finding the best time and place to talk to your parents will certainly provide a better and more comfortable atmosphere.
- Heads up – Sometimes it can be more comfortable for both you and your parents if you give them a heads up that you’d like to sit down with them. Maybe let them know in the morning that you’d like to talk with them that night.
- Your needs – What is it that you want out of your conversation with your parents? Before you approach them, think about your needs and what you want to get out of the conversation. Do you want them to just listen? Do you want them to help you solve something? Do you need their advice? Let them know exactly what you need from the conversation.
- Simple starter – Start out by asking your parents a simple question. “Mom, can I tell you something?” or “Dad, I’m having a problem and I need your help. Can we talk?” are great ways to ease into a conversation with your parents.
Tips on how to talk about the abuse
Talking about anything tough that you’re going through isn’t easy. And when you’re a teenager, it just makes it that much more difficult. You might be embarrassed. You might be ashamed. Whatever you’re feeling, know that it’s okay to feel that way. Your parents love you and they’ll do whatever it takes to help you. Below are some tips on how to talk about what you’re going through:
- Be honest – This is one time that “honesty is the best policy” really helps. You need to be open and honest with your parents. They can’t help if they don’t know what’s going on.
- Explain – So often, explaining our situations in their entirety can be the most helpful when talking with someone, especially our parents. Let your parents know what you think, feel and need from them.
- The whole truth – It can be scary or embarrassing to talk to your parents, but telling them the whole truth is important. They’ll need to know how to support you.
- Clear and direct – Admitting to your parents that you are in an abusive relationship is difficult at best, and terrifying at worst. It is important that you are as clear and direct with your parents as possible. Get straight to the point.
What the conversations can look like
The biggest thing to keep in mind when talking to your parents is that communication is a two-way street. They may have questions for you. Let your parents ask those questions and remember, answer them as honestly as possible. They are there to help you figure things out. They are there to support you in any way they can. Also, everything doesn’t have to be all figured out in one conversation. You can revisit your conversation again the next day or whenever you feel comfortable to do so. Above all, listening is a key component, so let your parents know to listen to you before they ask questions, just as they will need for you to listen to them when they offer their help.
If you’re not ready to start the conversation with your parents yet, think about other adults or support systems in your life that you can rely on. Are there any teachers, coaches, aunts, or uncles you trust to talk about your relationship?
You can also text “loveis” to 22522 to talk to a peer advocate at LoveisRespect.org.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org or chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777.