Please note: Entries within this blog may contain references to instances of domestic abuse, dating abuse, sexual assault, abuse or harassment. At all times, Break the Cycle encourages readers to take whatever precautions necessary to protect themselves emotionally and psychologically.  If you would like to speak with an advocate, please contact a 24/7 peer advocate at 866-331-9474  or text “loveis” to 22522.

Having the Hard Conversation: Talking to Your Kids About Dating Violence

Dating abuse affects everyone. It knows no boundaries and crosses all barriers. It can happen to anyone, at any time, at any age. This isn’t just reflect in what we see in our lives — it’s in the statistics. Shockingly, one in three young people will experience some form of dating abuse, but two-thirds will never report it. One in 10 have been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by their partner.

So, why aren’t more people talking about it?

Dating abuse is not easy to talk about. We are socialized not to talk about abusive behaviors in relationships. We are taught to ignore or to stay quiet when we see signs of abuse. If you are parents, it’s even more challenging to open a conversation with your child about relationships.

But as colleges and universities undergo investigations for Title IX violations, and the world of sports bring dating violence front and center in the media, it’s more important than ever to start having conversations about what it means to have a healthy relationship.

This February is teenDVmonth, when we celebrate healthy relationships and shine a national spotlight on the issue of dating abuse prevention and awareness.

While it can be hard to talk to a young person in your life about relationships, sex and dating, it is critical to open the conversation and help your child understand the warning signs of unhealthy relationships. Tell them about your own experiences with dating, and what they can do to avoid mistakes or embrace what’s healthy about those relationships. Most of all, talk and listen. What they say may surprise you — and the help you can offer will be priceless. If you’re having trouble thinking of what to say, you can use our Conversation Guide as a starting point for how to bring up these issues. 

Everyone deserves a healthy relationship. Let’s change that, one talk at a time.