Is it Really Love?

Helping Your Teen Think it Through

Dating can be complicated at any age, but it’s important for your teen to understand that abusive relationships are never okay. Share with your teen that dating abuse isn’t something that just happens in the movies and on TV - it’s more common than they probably think. In fact, one out of every three teens ends up in a relationship that is physically, emotionally, sexually, or verbally abusive.

Explain that abuse is about control and power.

While healthy relationships are about love and support, abusive relationships are about control and power. Here are some questions that you could ask your teen to help them understand if a relationship is abusive:

  • Does your boyfriend/girlfriend pressure you to have sex or do other things you are not ready to do?
  • Does your boyfriend/girlfriend try to get you to drink alcohol or use drugs when you really don’t want to?
  • Does your boyfriend/girlfriend try to control who your friends are and how you spend all of your time?
  • Does your boyfriend/girlfriend make all the decisions and not listen to your thoughts or opinions?
  • Does your boyfriend/girlfriend ever hurt you or make you feel afraid?

If the answer to any of these is yes, then your teen’s relationship is not healthy. If your teen is in an abusive relationship, it’s important to keep all lines of communication open and let your teen know that you are there for them.  Here are some resources you can share with your teen to help them recognize the signs of abuse:

Talk about the differences between love and abuse.



Partners in a healthy relationship:

  • Trust each other.
  • Respect each other’s feelings and opinions.
  • Make decisions together.
  • Are honest with each other.
  • Feel safe and secure.
  • Listen to each other.

An abusive partner may:

  • Put you down.
  • Tell you what to do.
  • Break your stuff.
  • Threaten you or your loved ones.
  • Act jealous for no reason.
  • Slap you around.
  • Force you to have sex.


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