Teen Dating Violence Awareness – Part 2
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.
The theme is, “Be About It,” encouraging everyone to help create a world free from relationship abuse. It’s important to start talking to your children about intimate partner abuse early and often.
Scott, the program manager for our Children’s Safe Exchange and Visitation, shared how he discusses his work and topics surrounding intimate partner abuse with his son, who is about to turn 13.
I have been working with traumatized youth in various residential facilities since the winter of 1995. As a parent, I feel that I have an advantage in talking to my son about intense issues since most parents’ “intense” feels like my Tuesday. That’s certainly not entirely true, but that’s how it feels sometimes when I talk to parents who aren’t social work lifers.
My advantages are compounded by my spouse who is an Intervention Specialist working at VIP [Violence Intervention and Prevention Center] on UK’s campus. Most of her work is centered on sexual assault.
My son will be 13 this April. He has been subjected to post-work debriefings between my wife and me for the past 12 years. There is not a lot he hasn’t heard. The good news is talking to him about intimate partner abuse, consent, sexual assault, etc. already has some built-in context.
When we need to approach an issue with him, it usually develops organically. Most of the time he reports from YouTube, or we overhear something he is watching and try to be pretty frank with him.
Despite the built-in context, it can still be difficult as my son is on the Autism Spectrum and does not give the cues we normally need to tell us the message is received and registered. I am direct, frank, and approach as if I’m talking to a dear friend.
Sometimes we get cues that he is on board with what we are saying. The other day I trimmed my beard and my son says, “Hey dad, please don’t be mad…but you look like Andrew Tate.”
I don’t at all, but I know he’s paying attention.