By CAMERON WALKER
Albany County SAFE Project is hosting a workshop 6-8 p.m. Tuesday at Whiting High School’s gym, 802 S. 24th St., to inform parents of signs that their teenager might be in an abusive relationship and ways to talk about it with them.
SAFE Project prevention and outreach specialist Lindsey Hanlon said about 81 percent of parents don’t think dating abuse is an issue for teens. Teaching parents how to recognize the signs of teen dating violence is important because they are the ones who know their teens the best and could provide the help needed if they are in that type of situation.
“We want relationships to be something that is a good thing in their lives and not a painful thing,” Hanlon said. “One in three high schoolers will have an abusive relationship which is really high, but about 80 percent of parents don’t think that teen dating violence is happening or is a big deal.”
She said teenagers in an abusive relationship most commonly experience physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse. Hanlon said teenagers that experience a form of abuse often experience a technological-based form of abuse known as cyberabuse, which is becoming more prevalent in teenage abusive relationships.
“Cyberabuse is a really big part of a lot of abusive relationships on the teenage level,” She said.
“One in four abusive relationships also have that cyberabuse attachment to it, and it could be harassing online, texting endlessly, be demanding nudes, and basically everything that falls under cyberbullying can be an aspect of an abusive relationship for teenagers.”
About 67 percent of teens tell someone they were in an abusive relationship and a lot of times they don’t realize they are at the time, Hanlon said. She said when she goes to schools to talk about abusive relationships with students, they say they do things like provide their partner with their email or Facebook information as a sign of trust or that not having friends of the opposite sex is OK because their partner also doesn’t have friends of the other sex.
“We don’t honestly see as many teens as we probably see adults, (partly because) a lot of it is because teens are going to be less aware that they are in an abusive relationship than a lot of adults are,” Hanlon said. “A lot of things when you are a teenager seem like perfectly normal in relationships that with the perspective of age seem really bad.”
She said teenagers show several signs of abuse such as changes in their personality, appearance and who they talk to but one of the best indicators is if parents feel like something is going on in their kid’s relationship to just ask them about it.
“A lot of it can be a gut feeling,” Hanlon said. “Parents know their kids best and if you have a bad feeling about your kid’s partner, if you are noticing a lot of behavioral changes or noticing that they are just generally sad and anxious a lot more than they used to be then it is worth having a conversation with them about that.”