As your teenager heads off to school, they’re walking into a maze of adolescent experiences waiting to happen, including dating and sex. If you talk to your teen about sex and sexuality, they might react indignantly or recoil in horror (“Mom! Dad! Gross!”). Young people are often hesitant to open up to adults because they may fear being judged or may feel the conversation topic is uncomfortable. However, as a parent one of the best things you can do is talking, supporting, and listening to them about these topics.
It’s exciting to be with a new dating partner. However, even if things are casual, it’s important to set boundaries. Sometimes boundaries also shift and change as a relationship progresses, which is okay as long as you both agree to discuss the shift honestly and you both feel good about the changes. To have a healthy dating relationship, whether casual or exclusive, both partners need to know each other’s limits.
Everybody gets angry from time to time. Traffic is a nightmare, your favorite sport team loses their championship game, your new shirt was ruined in the laundry -- the list of common grievances like delayed flights and having a waiter bring the wrong dinner goes on and on. Yet when someone acts angry for no reason, or explodes in anger, that could be cause for alarm, because extreme or explosive tempers are one of the warning signs of dating abuse.
A recent study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that within a year, 21 percent of high school girls and 10 percent of high school boys were physically or sexually assaulted by someone they dated. We often hear about the harmful impacts of physical or sexual abuse in a relationship, but it is less often that we hear about emotional or verbally abusive behaviors used to manipulate and control a dating partner.
People view dating abuse victims as being overwhelmingly female. However, one in three teens experience some form of dating abuse, including male victims. And 35 percent of girls reported being the perpetrator at some point in their lives, while 37 percent of boys reported victimization.
June is Pride Month, and we celebrate all healthy and happy relationships, including relationships with gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans* people. Being a young person in a same-sex relationship should be as healthy and loving as a heterosexual relationship. However, LGBTQ relationships experience similar rates of dating violence to heterosexual relationships.
We had a chance to interview Dr. Lisa Fontes, author of Invisible Chains: Overcoming Coercive Control in Your Intimate Relationship, about what it means to be in a relationship where a partner uses coercive control as a form of dating abuse.
1. Tell us briefly about your book, Invisible Chains: Overcoming Coercive Control in Your Intimate Relationship.