MASON CITY, Iowa - Can you spot the signs if someone is in an abusive relationship? If you can't, you're not alone.
According to LoveIsRespect.org, about 82% of parents feel confident that they could recognize if their teen is experiencing dating violence, but more than half of those parents could not correctly identify the warning signs.
This month, Crisis Invervention Services is getting parents aware of identifying the signs if their teen is in an abusive relationship, as part of Teen Dating Violence Awareness & Prevention Month.
Executive Director Mary Ingham notes that it may be difficult for teens to open up to their parents about issues they're dealing with, and may turn to their peers for advice.
"That's a lot for a teen to take on. If my 14 year-old friend comes to me and talks about an abusive relationship, but don't tell anyone, it puts that friend in a dangerous situation."
She's seen teens come to her and her staff about what to do if they know a friend that may be experiencing an abusive relationship, or if they themselves are in one, moreso than young adults.
"This runs the gamut from emotional abuse, controlling behaviors, to physical and sexual violence."
So what's the best way to get help? Find a trusting adult.
"Teachers are so aware of the relationship issues. Teachers are a great place to start, and school counselors. When I go to ball games, I often see kids talking to the janitor. Any adult that takes interest, reach out for help. Maybe they don't know all the answers, but they can hopefully guide you to someone who does."
She encourages parents to know what their teen is doing, stressing that communication is key.
"Talk about what kinds of social media they're involved with. Talk about in general, before someone starts to date, how that constant messaging, always needing to know where someone's at, is a red flag, and what to do about it."
In addition, CIS is doing more outreach to teens.
"What we're doing now is talking to teens, here's how you can help a friend. Here are some local resources, here's things to look for. We're really trying to put more tools in the tool chests of teens."
The hashtag "#1Thing" has become a focal point of keeping teens safe in their relationships. Teens are encouraged to learn one thing about teen dating violence, and then share that with a friend.