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Prevention Tuesday: What to do if you or a friend is in an abusive relationship

In Outreach, Prevention on March 6, 2012 at 5:00 am

Are you involved in a dating relationship that is abusive or potentially abusive? Ask yourself the following questions. If you answer “yes” to any of the questions you are potentially in an unhealthy relationship:

  • Is your partner jealous or possessive?
  • Does your partner dislike your friends?
  • Does your partner not let you have friends?
  • Does your partner have a “quick temper”?
  • Does your partner have a rigid idea of gender roles?
  • Does your partner try to control you or make all the decisions?
  • Do you worry about how your partner will react to things you do or say?
  • Do you get a lot of negative verbal teasing from your partner?
  • Are you comfortable with your partner’s “playful” slaps and shoves?
  • Does your partner’s behavior change if he/she drinks or uses drugs?
  • Does your partner pressure you to use alcohol or drugs?
  • Do you feel it is your responsibility to make the relationship work?
  • Are you afraid of what your partner might do if he/she becomes angry?
  • Are you afraid to end the relationship?
  • Do you believe your partner will not accept breaking up?
  • Does your partner blame you when he/she mistreats you?
  • Does your partner threaten to hurt your pets?

You should think ahead about ways to be safe if you are in a dangerous or potentially dangerous relationship. Here are some things to consider in designing your own safety plan.

  • What adults can you tell about the violence and abuse?
  • What people at school can you tell in order to be safe–teachers, principal, counselors, security?
  • Consider changing your school locker or lock.
  • Consider changing your route to/from school.
  • Use a buddy system for going to school, classes and after school activities.
  • What friends can you tell to help you remain safe?
  • If stranded, who could you call for a ride home?
  • Keep a journal describing the abuse.
  • Get rid of or change the number to any beepers, pagers or cell phones.
  • Keep spare change, calling cards, number of the local shelter, number of someone who could help you and restraining orders with you at all times. 
  • Where could you go quickly to get away from an abusive person?
  •  What other things can you do?

How to Help a Friend Who is in an Abusive Relationship?

  • Talk to your friend and be nonjudgmental when discussing the abuse.
  • Listen to your friend and believe him/her.
  • Let your friend know that violence under any circumstance is unacceptable.
  • Express your understanding, care, concern and support.
  • Point out your friend’s strengths. He or she may not see his or her own abilities and gifts due to the effects of the abuse.
  • Encourage your friend to confide in a trusted adult. Offer to go with him or her for help.
  • Talk to a trusted adult if you believe your friend’s situation is getting worse.
  • Call the police if you witness an assault.
  • Keep educating yourself about dating violence

Things Not to Say or Do

  • Don’t be critical of your friend or his/her partner.
  • Don’t ask blaming questions such as: What did you do to provoke him/her? Why don’t you just break up with him/her?
  • Don’t assume that your friend wants to break up with their partner, or act like you know what is best for them.
  • Don’t pressure your friend to make quick decisions. They need to figure things out at their own pace.
  • Never put yourself in a dangerous situation by being a mediator.

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