phone-call - If our lines are closed or busy, call the 24-hour National Helpline on FREEPHONE 0800 027 1234

10 Red Flags in Teen Relationships


10 Red Flags in Teen Relationships

Our recent website survey revealed that many of you would like more information around signs of domestic abuse in teenage relationships. In response we ran a week long campaign highlighting the red flags of an unhealthy teen relationship. This blog aims to give a more in-depth look at these warning signs and how to (support your teen), recognise the differences between a healthy and unhealthy relationship. Please use this blog as an opportunity to open up a dialogue with your teen or friends around acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

Red flags in teenage relationships are not all that dissimilar to adult relationships Abusive relationships can happen at any age regardless of gender. You don’t have to be living with someone to be in an abusive relationship, it can happen at any stage of the relationships and can continue even when the relationship ends. The abuse is NEVER your fault. CASWA are here if you would like to discuss any of these red flags or find out more about receiving support for your experiences of an unhealthy relationship.

Here are 10 red flags that a relationship may be unhealthy (this list is by no means exhaustive)

  • Jealousy: Does your boyfriend or girlfriend, get excessively jealous when you spend time with other people? A small amount of jealousy is normal however it’s important to remember that it’s healthy to have time apart and spend time with other people.

  • Pressure: If your boyfriend of girlfriend is pressuring you to take part in activities of any kind that you do not feel ready for or you are not comfortable with, and get mad at you for saying no, or make fun of you for saying no, this is unhealthy behaviour. In a relationship we should respect each other’s boundaries and limits and not put pressure on our partner to act or behave in certain ways.

  • Unexpected bouts of anger: An unexpected bout of anger can be described as – when a person experiences bouts of anger or rage seemingly without a trigger or without good reason. This can also include if your partner gets easily frustrated or angry at you for little things, such as becoming angry if you make a simple mistake or if you buy the “wrong” kind of chocolate.

  • Taunting or Bullying: Taunting and/or bullying is unacceptable in and relationship dynamic whether this is friendships, family or a romantic relationship.

  • Monitoring you: this would look like your partner constantly check your whereabouts and your phone. Monitoring your behaviour is a form of control. This can often look like your partner playing a caring role of making sure you are safe, however if they are consistently messaging you and checking where you are this is controlling and abusive.

  • Embarrassing you: purposefully embarrassing you and making you the butt of all their jokes in front of others, and making you feel uncomfortable is red flag behaviour. Your partner should be lifting up your confidence and making you feel good about yourself, not the opposite.

  • Intimidation: Intimidation can come in many forms, from towering over you, purposefully painful grips, leering looks, using your fears against you, and more. Threatening you is another form of intimidation. If your partner threatens you in any way, holding things over you in order to ensure you behave accordingly this is abusive and red flag behaviour. In Teenage relationships this might look like “if you don’t do this, I’ll tell your parents that you cheated on that test” or “If you don’t do what I want, I’ll hurt myself” or even “If you spend time with him/her again I’ll hurt them”

  • Controlling you: We have mentioned various types of controlling behaviour above, such as monitoring you, isolation, jealousy and invasion of privacy. When we discuss domestic abuse with Young people and Women we look at the “power and control wheel” and talk about control being at the centre of an abusive relationship. Many of the different types of abuse can be counted as a form of control. An abuser thrives on having control over others and will often go to extreme lengths to excerpt their power and control over you. Isolating you is another form of control this means keeping you away from friends and family. This type of behaviour is commonly linked with jealousy as discussed above. They might use being jealous as an excuse to keep you away from others and stop you from socializing with your friends, and spending time with family. In any relationship it is important that you spend time apart and allow yourself to have time with others.

  • Physically hurting you: Physically hurting you on purpose is red flag behaviour, this can be gripping you to tightly and leaving bruises, throwing objects at you, hitting, kicking, nipping and slapping to name a few.

  • Taking and sharing inappropriate pictures of you: Taking inappropriate pictures of you without your consent is not ok. Neither is pressuring you into taking pictures for them or sharing those pictures with their friends or other people.

Teen relationships can be a daunting traumatic and confusing experience for teenagers and their parents and have a significant impact on their mental, physical health, social life and education. When exploring potential red flags in teenage relationships it’s important for parents and carers to note that there could be significant changes in your child’s behaviour which may be signs that they are in an unhealthy relationship. Some of these changes might look like:

  • Isolation – if your teen stops socializing with their friends and becomes withdrawn
  • Constantly checking a mobile phone and getting upset when asked to turn it off. ( we know that a lot of teenagers and respond in this way with their mobiles and therefore this does not automatically mean that they are in an abusive relationship)
  • Signs of physical injuries, such as bruising or scratches otherwise unexplained.

If you are concerned that you (or your teen) is in an abusive relationship or that your teen is a perpetrator please contact CASWA here. or one of the following agencies for specialist support. You are not alone, we are here to help.: