Remember that the teen has already been mistreated and disrespected, so it is important you show the teen respect by letting them make their own decisions. Most people in abusive relationships take a long time to reach the point where they are ready to leave, even if they are suffering emotional or physical abuse. Don’t try and push them to leave or you may close the channels of communication.
In the meantime, there are many ways you can help the teen in your care.
- Listen without judging.
- Trust the teen’s instincts and decisions.
- Help the teen recognize that abuse is not normal or acceptable.
- Instead of saying negative things about the abuser as a person, focus on the abuser’s unsafe and unhealthy behavior.
- Encourage the youth to get help from a professional.
- Help the youth to avoid becoming isolated by inviting them to take part in activities with you.
- Help the youth to create a safety plan, which is a list of changes they can make to keep safe at home, school, work, and in the community.
- Help them create code words to use with you or friends when they are in danger
- Make sure they have either a cell phone that works and is charged or a phone card so that they can call in an emergency.
- Counsel them to avoid dangerous or isolated places.
- Plan escape routes from your house, work, school, and other places where the youth often goes.
- Change all passwords that their partner may know, including: voicemail, email, social media and bank accounts.
- Consider getting a restraining order if the violence escalates.
- If the youth and the violent partner have a child together, they should talk to their lawyer about custody and visitation.
- Offer them help in finding a domestic violence support group for support and guidance.
- Counsel them to tell people at their school, or workplace about the abuse so they can take steps to keep the youth safe if necessary.
If you think the youth in your care is the abusive one in the relationship it is crucial to get them help. The goal is not to shame them but rather to help them learn new ways to get their needs met and communicate without being violent.
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