Safety & Awareness | November 1, 2019
By Alicia Gehrig, Community Outreach Coordinator, Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services, Inc.
Unhealthy and abusive relationships happen more frequently in teen relationships than you would think. One in three adolescents in the United States is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner. This figure far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence. The statistic shows just how common it truly is. Oftentimes, these unhealthy behaviors happen in a private setting and are kept a secret from friends or family members. When you notice unhealthy behaviors happening in a friend’s relationship, here are some things you can do:
- Talk about it! Share your concerns for their safety and do not excuse the signs of abuse.
- Listen Actively! Give your friend your undivided attention.
- Be supportive! Let your friend know that you care about their safety. Avoid telling your friend what they should do, but instead talk about options.
- Do not criticize! Although you may not understand your friend’s decisions thus far, be supportive and listen without judgement.
- Encourage! Help your friend understand the importance of telling a trusted adult about the abuse. Offer to go with your friend to seek help.
- Inform! Remind your friend that violence is never acceptable, and it is NOT their fault. No one deserves to be treated with disrespect.
- Protect privacy! Your friend has chosen to confide in you; do not gossip or share details about the abuse with anyone other than a trusted adult.
- Do not put yourself in danger! Do not attempt to be a mediator for your friend and the abuser.
Provide resources! School Guidance Counselors, local domestic abuse agencies, websites, etc.
Giving someone your support through a difficult time can make a huge impact on their life. Sometimes, all someone needs is to feel supported and listened to. Give support when you can, be there for your friends, and remember, you are not alone. Help is Here! If you need guidance on how to support a friend or family member who is in an unhealthy relationship, call our 24/7 helpline to speak with an advocate, (920) 235-5998.