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Maybe you’re afraid of what your parents will think. Or, what they’ll say. Maybe you feel embarrassed or ashamed to bring it up. But if you’re concerned that you might be dating an abusive partner (or just have questions about what a healthy relationship looks like), your parents might be your best allies.
Aside from physical dangers, being the victim of dating violence at a young age puts you at greater risk for lower grades and depression. When you’re silent about what’s happening, you can end up isolated from your friends, and it can become harder to get out of the situation.
Understanding a relationship with an abusive partner—and how to leave safely—can be difficult, and your parents can help you to figure out your options, or can help you connect with a trained domestic violence advocate to learn about safety planning. Remember, the thing your parents want most is to keep you safe, no matter what that takes.
But even when you know your parents are on your side, it can still be hard to open up to them. Here are a few tips for making the conversation a little easier.
1. Find a time and place you’re comfortable.
You probably don’t want to have a serious conversation about your relationship in the school parking lot, for example. Tell your parents you need some time and would like to speak with them privately. That might mean younger siblings are in bed or at a friend’s house. Create the environment you need to feel comfortable.
2. Consider giving them some notice.
There’s a good chance your parents understand more than you think. But if you’re concerned about how they’ll react, consider telling them in the morning a little bit about what you want to talk about that evening. That will give them time to process their own emotions and come to you with more resources.
3. Get them prepared.
Your parents may have never had this experience before, so you may even want to refer them first to this page on Loveisrespect.org, or print it off for them, so that they are prepared to be a better support for you.
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4. Tell the whole story.
Your parents want to understand what is happening in your relationship. Trust them, and tell them the whole story. This will help them be able to better help you.
5. Be honest.
Your parents might ask you about specific events and how they made you feel. They might ask what you want to happen now and how you want them to help you. Be honest about your thoughts and feelings
6. Develop a plan.
If you feel you’re at risk for personal harm, talk to your parents about safety planning. What steps do you need to take to stay safe? Should they contact your school? Do you need to change passwords on your social media accounts? Do you need a cell phone for emergencies (if you don’t already have one)? Is legal action a path you want or need to consider at this point?
If you still feel you can’t talk to your parents, don’t go it alone. Talk to an adult you trust—a grandparent, aunt or uncle, a leader at your church, a school counselor or other advisor. You can also find support with Loveisrespect, an organization specifically created to help young people understand and prevent dating violence. Call their hotline at 866-331-9474, text "loveis" to 22522 or visit loveisrespect.org.
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