What can you do if your friend is getting pushed, pulled or hit by their boyfriend/girlfriend?
Don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend who you think needs help. Tell them you’re concerned for their safety and want to help. Be supportive and listen patiently.
1) Help your friend understand that it is NEVER, EVER OK to get pushed, pulled or hit in a dating relationship.
Abuse is a behavior kids learn. Sometimes people see it growing up. Other times they learn it from friends or popular culture. But, no matter where it’s learned, it’s not ok and it’s never justified!
What is abuse? Start here: http://www.loveisrespect.org/is-this-abuse/is-this-abuse
2) Help your friend understand that it is not their fault.
No matter what the abuser says, no matter if your friend made a big mistake, nobody ever “deserves” to be hit! It’s never the “fault” of the person being abused.
3) Reassure your friend that they’re not alone.
Anyone can be abusive and anyone can be the victim of abuse. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, gay or straight, rich or poor. Share with your friend that:
- One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence.
- One in 10 high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.
- One quarter of high school girls have been victims of physical or sexual abuse.
- Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year.
4) Help your friend get more support.
Support for your friend can come from many sources. Discuss the following options with them. The more support, the better! Tell your friend:
- Family may be a great resource for someone experiencing dating abuse. It can be really hard opening up to a family member, so here are some tips to get you started: http://www.loveisrespect.org/get-help/support-systems/at-home
- Schools have a responsibility to keep students safe. If you’re experiencing dating abuse on or off campus, consider talking to a friend, teacher or school counselor. They can help you find solutions to your safety concerns and deal with your feelings. (Remember, a teacher or counselor may be a mandated reporter, meaning they may be required by law to report your situation to the authorities if you have been hurt or a crime has been committed.) For more: http://www.loveisrespect.org/get-help/support-systems/in-school
- Co-workers may help keep you safe. If you’re in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, you may want to talk to someone at your job. It can be hard to tell anyone about what you’re going through, but it can be good support. Learn what you can do to help keep your workplace safe: http://www.loveisrespect.org/get-help/support-systems/at-work
- Community members such as faith leaders, school counselors, police, coaches, security guards, and extended family members can help. Learn more here: http://www.loveisrespect.org/get-help/support-systems/in-your-community
5) Don’t give up on your friend just because s/he’s not ready to leave the relationship yet.
For some people who’ve never experienced an abusive relationship, it’s hard to imagine why someone would stay. They don’t understand that breaking up can be more complicated than it seems.
The truth is there’s lots of reasons why people don’t “just leave” — including that the break up is often the most dangerous time. Reasons include:
- Fear of more violence
- Believing abuse is normal
- Fear of being outed
- Low self-esteem
- Still loving the person
- Fear that no one will believe them
- Cultural and religious reasons
- Distrust of school officials & police
- Lack of money
- Nowhere else to live
Even when you feel like there’s nothing you can do, don’t forget that by being supportive and caring — you’re already doing a lot. Just be patient, stick with your friend, try to get them more support and keep doing the other things above.
6) Give yourself and your friend props for even talking together about domestic abuse! You are brave! You are heroes!
- Only 33% of teens who were in a violent relationship ever told anyone about the abuse.
- Eighty one percent of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they don’t know if it’s an issue.