Hudson Valley Parent

HVP October 2016

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24 Hudson Valley Parent n October 2016 ing to change after an incident then being really attentive and loving for a while. This period - known as the honeymoon stage - can thoroughly confuse a young woman who only feels good about herself when she is being showered with affection. Or, the abuser can turn the situation around and make the victim feel like it is her fault by saying that she made him hit/hurt her. It doesn't have to be this way. Whereas some parents are at a loss as to what to do, parents and teens today are hardly alone. The Hudson Valley and the Internet are teaming with resources to help you and your teen navigate turbulent waters that come from abuse safely. Safe Homes offers a 24-hour hotline, a shelter, one-on-one coun- seling, support groups and advocacy through their Teen Dating Violence Prevention program. Youth Educator Alex Boswell works with teens, par- ents, and teachers to help end abuse. "There are statistics that say that those who grow up witnessing domestic violence continue to be vic- tims or perpetrators," Boswell says. "But I like to point out that more than half grow up not to continue the cycle. Programs like ours help." Handling your business The CDC also says that 21 percent of female and 10 percent of male high school students who dated experienced physical and/or sexual violence. The number of victims may be actually be higher because many do not actually report the abuse. Often, teens are too ashamed or embarrassed to talk about it, even to friends. They may think it's their fault. Or that they are just imagin- ing it. Or, maybe this is what love is supposed to be like. If you think that your child is experiencing violence in his rela- tionship, it is important to know what steps you need to take to get the situation to stop. Although you might want to give the batter a taste of his own medicine, experts suggest that confronting the abuser is not the right thing to do. Instead, talk to someone like a doctor, social worker, domestic violence shelter worker or police to help you assess the situation and decide the next step. You may decide to help your child get a restraining order to keep the abuser away, which the police and domestic violence case workers can help you do. The order will require that the batterer stay a set distance away from your child at all times. Violations make the batterer subject to arrest. Also trust your gut. If your child is telling you that she is scared of her dating partner, validate her fear. Emphasize that the violence was not her fault and that she is not to blame for her partner's actions. Be there for your child and en- courage open lines of communica- tion. Listen to what she is telling you and be aware of all she may not be able to say. Sometimes the biggest obstacle for teens is not that their parents dis- like their boyfriend or girlfriend, but their parents like them. A friend of mine who reported being trapped in an abusive relationship as a teen was afraid to break up with him because her parents liked him so much. And when she finally told them of the abuse years later, they insisted she was mistaken and blamed her. Watching for signs Unfortunately, no matter how strong your relationship is or was with your teen, it is common for them to pull away and communi- cation to stagnate. So the answer, "fine" to the question, "How was your date?" or the reply, "Nothing," to the query, "What did you do last night?" becomes the accepted way of conversation. While it is difficult to acknowl- edge that your child could be a victim, it is even more difficult to re- alize that your child could be a per- petrator. According to breakingth-, things to look for when observing a relationship include: 1. Apologizing/making excuses for a partner's behavior 2. Loss of interest in activities 3. Stops seeing friends and family members TEEN BATTERING (Continued from Page 22)

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