In the previous blog, I submitted some pretty scary statistics. Yet, there is hope. I have heard it said that knowledge is power. However, I believe that knowledge is opportunity and caring is power. So how does an informed parent proceed with caring for your teen? Please read the following ideas.
What should you do as a parent?
- Tell your daughter about these statistics so that she does NOT become one.
- If your daughter reports abuse to you, always believe her. You are not the investigator.
- Teach her to never give out her passwords.
- Teach her to never accept a drink from someone and never leave her drink at a party.
- Teach her not to keep secrets. If she is a victim of a crime, she has the right to report this to local law enforcement. If she has been raped (or suspects she has been date raped) she needs to go the local emergency room to complete a rape kit— and not to take a shower or wash at all before being examined. This will provide evidence to the court system that she has been raped. Her body is the crime scene and without evidence, prosecuting becomes very difficult. Due to this and other factors, 98% of rapists never spend a day in jail.
- Make sure she knows she has to fight back. She cannot bury this. This wasn’t her fault. It doesn’t matter what she should have been doing differently, she is NEVER responsible for someone else’s evil choices. The fact that they violated her is never her fault. NEVER. She did not have it coming. She did not ask for it.
- Teach her that if she is in a psychologically abusive relationship, more overt displays of loyalty and friendship to him will NOT make it better. More transparent schedules, more time spent together will NOT allay his game to control your daughter. Teach her to just walk away and not formally break up. The less she says, the less manipulation will occur.
- Encourage your daughter to tell you or another trusted adult if she is worried about what is happening. If she feels she is in any danger, encourage her to keep all digital communication and voice mails, as well as any letters/notes. These might be later needed as proof, if she chooses to file harassment charges. Perpetrators are addicted to controlling someone—the only thing that helps them is a firm boundary or a threat of punishment—such as legal action—if it continues.
- It’s fair for parents to be suspicious when they are concerned that their child could be involved in an abusive relationship. You are not controlling your child when you ask for their phone and investigate their social media activity. Check your cell phone bill as every company provides a list of numbers used for calls and texts. You have a right to know what’s happening with your child in your home or what is happening to them if you are paying for their phone bill. Let this be a standard of providing the phone in the first place.
- Teach her to lock her dorm room each time she leaves and enters her room, even if her roommate lost the key.
- We teach children to wear seat belts and they don’t think they are going to get into a car crash each time they get into a car. Teaching your daughter to protect herself and how to respond if harassment or assault has happened gives her options to be in control, not to become paranoid about people.
An ounce of prevention is worth 100 pounds of cure in this case. Please don’t wait until your daughter is hurting. Share this with her the minute she has a phone and most definitely as she ventures out on her own whether in college, graduate school or living on her own.
Former Shelterwood Academy Therapist: