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Not all teens in abusive relationships are easy to detect. Often the last person you would ever suspect is being abused by someone they care about and love. Below are some signs you can look for in your students:
Bruises, especially on the upper arm(s), may indicate abuse. Wearing turtlenecks or long pants during warm weather may serve as a “cover up” for beatings. Stitches, scars, and explanations that don’t match injuries are obvious indicators of physical abuse.
Changes in Appearance
To avoid making their partner jealous, many abused teens change their style of dress. They may stop wearing makeup, wear baggy, less attractive clothing or dress in a style that does not match their personality. Is a female student always or never dressing to show her figure? Changes in weight—gains or losses—are common due to the stress and anxiety caused by being abused.
Is a student having a difficult time making eye contact with you? Do they seem less confident or apathetic about their work? Do they appear very defensive? Are they alternating between bragging about her boyfriend/girlfriend and being quiet about the relationship? Do they talk about ‘having to’ go somewhere with their boyfriend/girlfriend and missing activities or study groups?
Does the student appear nervous? Is their boyfriend/girlfriend walking them to and from your class? Are they cautious to avoid any contact with members of the opposite sex? Have they asked to be assigned to a different group in class that doesn’t have members of the opposite sex in it? Do they spend time in the nurse’s office because of frequent headaches or stomachaches?
Isolation from Friends & Activities
Do other students complain they no fun to be around anymore? Is all their time spent with their boyfriend/girlfriend? Do they miss class regularly? Are they no longer interested in joining after school clubs, contests or activities? Have friends ‘given up’ on them? Is all their time spent with their significant other or the significant other’s friends?