October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and while it is almost over, we hope the awareness is carried at all times. A recent study shows that 73% of teens experience emotional abuse, and that 1 in 3 teen relationships experience some form of abuse. Sometimes, the hardest thing about dating is not having someone to talk to. We encourage you to talk with people in your lives, and as teenagers, your likely to turn to friends for emotional support and advise.
Please read below for some tips on communicating with friends about dating and abuse from our friends at Love Is Respect.
Your friends can be great support systems for helping you if you are in an unhealthy or abusive relationship. Many times friends already know or see that your relationship is unhealthy. However, even if they do know, telling them about your situation may still be hard. You might wonder: What if they tell someone else? What will they think of me? Will they understand? Will they judge me?
A Friend You Trust
Start by picking someone you feel you can trust. Make sure to specifically point out anything you want to keep secret and share the fact that breaking your trust may put you in danger. Remember that even though you might be really close, you may still find it hard to talk to your friends about your relationship.
They might already know your situation or have an idea of what it might be, but they could also be totally surprised. If you don’t like their reaction, switch the conversation. Remember, you can only control yourself, not what your friend does. Be very clear about what you don’t want them to tell others, especially if it concerns your safety. You know your friends best — try to pick the ones who are most likely to support you.
Support from friends can be come in many different ways. Support may be something as simple as them just being there for you and listening to what you have to say. It can also be someone that gives you advice when you need it. Another way your friends can also be supportive is by helping you create or carry out a safety plan. Friends can…
- Walk to and from classes with you during school.
- Make sure to never leave you alone with your abuser when they are with you.
- Keep important things with them if you’re afraid that your partner might find them when they’re with you (for example, any evidence that your partner is abusing you).
- Make sure you have a ride wherever you go.
Remember that friends are the ones most likely to know and see that you’re in an abusive relationship.
Set Your Boundaries
Once you’ve decided to share your situation, consider what role you want your friends to play. If you only want to talk and not receive advice, kindly let them know. If you want what you share to be confidential, tell them that upfront too.
Know that the friend you tell might inform someone else. If physical abuse is happening and they’re worried for your safety, they may inform your school, family or even the police. Sharing can be a risk, but the support you receive will hopefully outweigh any violation of trust.
Not Everyone Will Understand
What happens after you share? Often, friends may react in a way that makes you feel like they’re mad at you, when they’re really mad at your abusive partner or the situation. They’re upset because they love you and don’t want you to be mistreated. If they start ranting against your significant other, let them know that it hurts and isn’t helpful.
If you need guidance finding a support system with your friends, please chat with us today. We can help you find another way to get support.