Claretha Cross is a Domestic Violence Liaison Officer with the Chicago Police Department. In this role, she helps educate teens about dating abuse and offers advice for how to escape abusive relationships. According to Officer Cross, many teens don't realize that controlling behavior or digital stalking is abuse.
Be Smart. Be Well. sat down with Officer Cross to discuss teen dating abuse. Watch the video interview above or read the transcript below.
To learn more about dating violence, visit Be Smart. Be Well. Domestic Violence.
Officer Cross: We know that domestic violence is a learned behavior. So the sooner we intervene with children the better the outcome and success of them developing healthy relationships and identifying unhealthy abusive behaviors.
Teen dating abuse is just like domestic violence. It's abuse of one partner over another to - designed to maintain and gain power and control over another person.
Officer Cross: A lot of them talk about they didn't even realize that their situation was considered dating abuse. They didn't realize that, uh, constant texting and, and calling was considered abuse, and pushing and shoving. A lot of them thought it was just child's play. But they came out of it with a different way of looking at relationships and having resources and gaining knowledge about who to talk to, where to go. And they came out, out of the forums with a different point of view of when they started.
Officer Cross: They are embarrassed or maybe afraid that their peers would know. The person could be popular and they, they don't want to feel isolated from everyone if they told this. And sometimes they don't even know where to go or who to talk to. That's why it's so important that we have the teen dating, this teen dating initiative and bringing it to the schools and youth organizations and churches, to make people aware of, of this, of teen dating violence and come up with resources to help and how to help and, and just the services that's out there for them.
Officer Cross: Some of the warning signs that a parent can notice and even for -- even friends would notice, isolation, they're no longer hanging out with their friends and family. Physical unexplained bruising and marks, short-temperedness, always feeling like they have to maybe get the phone call or they can't miss the phone call or visit from that other person, mood swings, things of that nature.
Officer Cross: Some of the things that a teen can do to possibly escape that unhealthy abusive relationship is talk to an adult. Talk to someone that you can trust. It may even be your friend that you can trust and maybe that friend can go along with you to talk to an adult to, to address this situation. Parents keep a open conversation. Open an honest conversation with your teenager, with your children even about the bad things. Things are a lot different now than it was when we were growing up. So we have to also listen to what the children have to say about their relationships.
Officer Cross: They should be talking to them about their rights in a relationship, as well as their responsibility in relationships, that they have the right to not be abused. They have the right to be respected. But they also have a responsibility to be honest and let someone know what their expectations are in that relationship. And just keep an open, honest conversation with your children about relationships, the good and the bad because they need to know both.