Why Do Adolescents Abuse? Why Stay? Why Leave?
Society often looks to the victim in an abusive relationship and asks, “Why doesn’t she/he just leave?” There are numerous reasons a person might not leave right away. Leaving any relationship is a process, and it can be even harder in a relationship where there is abuse. When the victim goes to leave the relationship, the violence may increase, as it can be seen as a “threat” to the abuser. Violence is not usually unexpected—it follows a history of verbal and emotional abuse that has worn down the adolescent’s self esteem. In addition, there are a number of reasons why adolescents abuse some of which include insecurity, belief in gender stereotypes, and desire for control. Each relationship has a unique set of dynamics and characteristics. In your role as the helping professional, intervene by talking with the adolescent and accessing the proper resources in the family and community environment if the young person feels they are in danger, if you sense they are in danger…and especially if you know they are in danger. If a young person feels they are in danger, help the student develop a safety plan. This may mean figuring out the safest intervention methods and involving others, including parents, health care facilities and faith based organizations, to ensure intervention is safe and effective.
It is important to pay attention if you suspect a client might be a victim of intimate partner violence. The individual will usually give out signals or make statements to determine if they are in a safe environment. Be supportive by creating a safe and non-judgmental environment. Don’t try to pry out more information than the adolescent is willing to share. Don’t give advice. Be a good listener. Allow the adolescent to make decisions for themselves. Remember that the individual has a relationship with their abuser. (Lee, Mindee. “How to Support a Domestic Abuse Victim.” July 15, 2008.)