National Centre for Domestic Violence Logo

Please note that Internet Explorer is no longer a supported browser so we cannot guarantee the integrity of our website when using it. Please use an alternate browser like Edge or Chrome.

Access ASSIST Online Injunction Database

Click here to leave training feedback


Make a Referral Using the Form Below:


    *Fields required. By submitting a referral you agree to receive updates on the progress of your referral, as outlined in our Privacy Policy.

    Teenage Dating Abuse: Advice for Parents

    Reading Time: 3 minutes

    Teenage Dating Abuse: Advice for Parents


    Teenage dating abuse looks like any other form of domestic abuse and can include physical violence such as slapping, hitting and punching; verbal abuse such as name-calling and constant criticism; emotional abuse like displays of extreme jealousy, mind games, controlling behaviour, emotional blackmail, or sharing explicit images; and sexual abuse such as unwanted sexual contact, sexual assault, or getting someone drunk or drugged to get sex.

    Why Teenagers Don’t Tell

    Many teenagers keep quiet about what is happening to them and parents are often the last to know.  This isn’t necessarily because your child mistrusts you – there are lots of reasons why they might keep relationship abuse a secret and these can be complex and overlapping.

    Teenagers may just be gaining autonomy over their own lives like being able to stay out later, having a girlfriend or boyfriend, or generally having more freedoms. If they tell you what is happening, you might take that control away from them.

    They might not be ready to end the relationship and be hoping that the abuse will stop. They might worry that you will stop them seeing their partner if they tell you about the abuse.

    They feel embarrassed and ashamed, particularly if this is their first dating relationship.

    They might be afraid you will intervene in an inappropriate way and make the situation worse – they may genuinely be frightened of repercussions against themselves and or the family.

    They think you will blame them, be disappointed in them or not trust them again in the future.

    They may have been seeing the abuser in secret because it is someone you disapprove of or have banned them from dating. If they tell you about the abuse they will also have to tell you they have been lying to you.

    They may think the abuse is normal or they are to blame, especially if the abuser has repeatedly told  them it is all their fault.

    Why teenagers are more vulnerable

     Young people have little or no prior experience of relationships and therefore do not recognise what a healthy, caring relationship looks like. They may have had poor relationships modelled to them by others.

    Teenagers may put too much emphasis on having a romantic partner, regardless of how they are treated. This might be more important than other things in their lives.

    They can easily confuse extreme jealousy and possessiveness with love.

    They might think you won’t believe them or take them seriously.

    Abusive relationships are cyclical – going from “honeymoon” period to abusive period – this is confusing for adults, let alone teenagers.

    Teenagers might need to see their girlfriend/boyfriend every day at school or college making it more difficult to end the relationship.

    A teenage pregnancy can create additional problems and make an abusive relationship more difficult to leave.

    Advice for Parents:

     Do make time for your teenager to talk, or identify another trusted adult they can talk to.

    Do give them lots of love and validation.

    Do take their relationships seriously.

    Do involve others if you think your teenager is at risk, such as police or their school.

    Do make sure your teenager is safe – perhaps arranging lifts for them until things settle.

    Do tell your teenager that the abuse is not their fault.

    Don’t get angry, this is likely to make your teenager clam up and stop talking.

    Don’t dismiss your teenager’s concerns, they might be at risk of harm.

    Don’t dole out punishments in the heat of the moment. If you need to change the rules, wait until this has been sorted.

    Don’t demand the relationship ends immediately. Your teenager may need help and support to realise that abuse is unacceptable and your demands can lead them to continuing the relationship in secret.


    Charlotte Woodward

    National Training Manager, NCDV

    Share This Article

    Reading Time: 2 minutes
    Reading Time: 2 minutes
    Reading Time: 2 minutes

    By Fiona Bawden, Times Online (8th May 2007)

    “Steve Connor, a student at City Law School, is a man on a mission. Six years ago he was a fairly directionless 27-year-old. Today, as well as taking the Bar Vocational Course, he is chairman of the National Centre for Domestic Violence, a ground-breaking organisation that he dragged into existence after a friend could not get legal help to protect her from an abusive partner.

    Connor’s route to the Bar has been circuitous. In 2001 he returned from a year in Australia (he says that he would not dignify describing it as a gap year), and took a job as a process server in South London. The job (“I just saw it advertised in the paper”) was not quite as dull as it sounds. On one occasion he was threatened with a machete, on another, he was nearly stabbed by a man he had arranged to meet on Clapham Common to serve with a non-molestation order: “He’d seemed really friendly on the phone…”

    The turning point in his life came when a friend, who was being abused by her partner, turned to him for support. Connor went with her to the police. She did not want to press criminal charges so the police suggested that she visit a solicitor to take out a civil injunction. “We must have seen 12 solicitors in a morning. We just went from one to the next to the next to the next. Everyone was very eager to help until we sat down to fill in the forms for the legal aid means test,” he says. The woman, who had a small child, did not qualify for public funding. But, Connor says, her financial situation as it appeared on paper did not bear any relation to her financial situation in reality. “She had a part-time job and she and her partner owned their home. Yet she didn’t have any money. Her boyfriend was very controlling and controlled all the money; he kept the chequebooks and didn’t let her have access to the bank account.”

    The injustice of the situation got under Connor’s skin. “I just couldn’t believe that there was no help available to people who did not qualify for public funds but could not afford to pay.

    I just kept feeling that this must be able to be sorted if only someone would address it.”That “someone” turned out to be him.

    In 2002, thanks entirely to Connor’s doggedness, the London Centre for Domestic Violence was formed. It started out with him and a friend, but is now a national organisation, covering 27 counties, and has helped approximately 10,000 victims last year to take out injunctions against their partners.

    NCDV now has nine full-time staff, 12 permanent volunteers and has trained over 5000 law and other students as McKenzie Friends to accompany unrepresented victims into court. We have also trained over 8000 police officers in civil remedies available regarding domestic violence. The National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) has branches in London, Guildford and Manchester and is on track to have branches in 16 areas within the next two years.

    NCDV specialises exclusively in domestic violence work and could be characterised as a cross between McDonald’s and Claims Direct. The high degree of specialisation means that its processes are streamlined: clients can be seen quickly and the work is done speedily and cheaply. “Sometimes, we will have one of our trained McKenzie Friends at a court doing 10 applications in one day,” Connor says.

    Clients are not charged for the service. NCDV staff take an initial statement: clients who qualify for legal aid are referred to a local firm; those that don’t get free help from the centre itself. It runs on a shoestring, heavily reliant on volunteers and capping staff salaries at £18,000 a year.

    Steve expects to qualify as a barrister this summer and hopes that having a formal legal qualification will give the centre added clout. “We are already acknowledged as experts and consulted at a high level, so I thought it would be helpful if I could back that up by being able to say I’m a barrister,” he says. He is just about to complete a one-year full-time BVC course at the City Law School (formerly the Inns of Court Law School) and, all being well, should be called to the Bar in July. Although Connor sees his long-term future as a barrister, he says that he has no immediate plans to practise. “I want to get NCDV running on a fully national level. Then I may take a step back and have a career at the Bar.”