4 Guidelines When Helping Abused Teens

Today we have a guest post from one of our former students, Roberta Roslund.  She is doing a great job working with teen moms.  I asked her to write a blog to give advice on how we can help teens in abusive relationships.  Here is what she’s learning:

I recently started working as a Teen Parent Director at YFC in Winnipeg. I love my job but a huge portion of it has become working with teen mothers to help them understand the abusive and destructive relationships that many of them have with their “baby daddy”.

Perhaps dealing with teenagers who find themselves in abusive romantic relationships is not something you deal with regularly, or maybe this is an on-going part of your ministry but either way it is always good to have a set of guideline or rules to follow when this issue arises.

  1. IT HAS TO BE THEIR DECISION:

Harsh…I want to make decisions and tell them what they should do when they are in an abusive relationship!  I want to tell them to get out of the relationship, call the police, and make a better life for yourself and child when they disclose abuse to me. Unfortunately I cannot make this decision for them.

When working with underage girls when they disclose abuse, this abuse must always be reported but I have no control over whether the girl decides to go back to her abusive relationship after the fact. Lay out the facts and let them know they can leave the abuser and that you think it is the best for their emotional and physical well being.

In the end when it is their decision to end the abusive relationship, it will stick much better. People want to make their own life choices and we need to support them.

  1. THEY ARE WORTH MORE:

Teenage mothers who feel stuck in an ongoing abusive relationship often feel that that is the best they can do and they’re afraid to leave because no one else will love them. Remind them of how Jesus sees them, even if they do not fully believe. It is so important to tell them that in God’s eyes they are a princess who is worth dying for!

This might sound cheesy but for too many girls they have never been told this. Tell them how you see them and that you believe they are worth more than how they are being treated.

  1. EXPERT VOICES:

An outside voice can be the best thing for girls to hear. To hear a new perspective and new voice brings a whole new meaning to the topic. I once brought a police officer who is a friend of mine into a discussion and he was able to tell a girl about some harsh realities he has seen. This gave a new voice and bigger picture of the issue. As well, another support for the teenage mother gives them more confidence to leave the abuse behind.

  1. Let Go:

Teen mothers can be extremely vulnerable because of the many obstacles they may face including the unhealthy relationships, lack of education, mental health concerns, isolation and lack of future plans.  It can be easy to get caught up and consumed into the problem but you need to let it go and give it up to God. He holds these girls in his hand and hears our prayers for them.

There is some great advice from Roberta.  How about you?  What can you add to the conversation?  Add your advice in the comments below.

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Tyson Howells

Tyson is the associate youth ministry director for Vanguard Youth Ministry Institute. He has been a youth pastor for many years in Winnipeg as well as in Edmonton. Tyson is passionate in seeing relational youth ministry that results in youth that are passionate about following Jesus. He still leads a small group at the youth group in his home church.

3 Comments

  1. Stephensays:

    Why do we neglect to mention teenage boys and fathers who are victims of abuse? Let’s give boys permission to speak out and not live in the vacuum of shame.

    • Hi Stephen!

      Totally I agree that teen dads can become neglected and may face some abuse themselves. In fact many of these teen dads abuse because they were abused themselves as children. There is for sure a need and an a prominent issue. I am currently working to see what programming and support we can begin to offer teen dads. This is a huge topic and maybe there will be a blog one day about teen dads!

    • so true -I saw one statistic saying that 1 out of 10 boys is sexually abused. This certainly needs attention. Glad that you brought it up Stephen.

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