One in four young people report emotional, physical, or sexual abuse from a dating partner each year. This means that you personally know — and come in contact with — many people in your daily life who are experiencing abuse. You can make a positive difference to someone experiencing abuse, whether they’re a family member, friend or even a stranger.
Not sure if someone is in trouble? You might not see dramatic warning signs like black eyes and broken bones, so how can you tell for sure? For one thing, listen to your instincts. You probably wouldn’t be worried without good reason.
Here are some signs to look for that might mean someone you know is in trouble and needs help.
Watching a friend or family member go through an abusive relationship can be very scary and you may feel like you’re not sure how to help them. The decision to leave can only be made by the person experiencing the abuse, but there a lot of things you can do to help your friend stay safe.
If your friend or family member is undergoing the serious and painful effects of dating abuse, they may have a very different point of view than you. They may have heard the abuse was their fault and feel responsible. If they do choose to leave, they may feel sad and lonely when it’s over, even though the relationship was abusive. They may get back together with their ex many times, even though you want them to stay apart. Remember that it may be difficult for your friend to even bring up a conversation about the abuse they’re experiencing.
A community of support is necessary to help a survivor reach safety and peace. Even if you don’t know the person experiencing dating abuse, you have the ability to become involved and try to stop dating abuse when you see it. Intervening can have a positive impact on someone in an abusive relationship and may be the difference between safety and danger. Do your part and speak up against abuse.
You can look for warning signs of abuse to help you identify if the situation is, in fact, abusive. If it feels wrong to you, it probably is. Also, know that even if you don’t feel safe enough to actually intervene, even standing around and letting the couple know that you are watching and are a witness to what is happening can help. Be careful. If you think something might be going on, say something. But if you think it may be unsafe for you to do something, stay back.
Your safety is always the highest priority and you won’t be able to give the best support if you’re injured. If for any reason you feel unsafe, do not approach the couple. Alert an authority figure or call the police immediately. If you do intervene and the abuse continues, step away and get help.
~Info taken from loveisrespect.organd awareak.org
Futures Without Violence
Provides information, resources, partnership and guidance in developing innovative and collaborative prevention programs, including development resources for employers and health care providers.
383 Rhode Island St., Suite #304
San Francisco, CA 94103-5133
Phone: (415) 252-8900
Fax: (415) 252-8991
TTY: (800) 595-4889
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
A national organization focused on coalition building, policy and public education, at the local, state, regional and national levels, whose website includes a list of all state domestic violence coalitions.
P.O. Box 18749
Denver, CO 80218
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Provides toll-free, live phone response and crisis intervention to callers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, offering information and referrals across all U.S. states and territories.
P.O. Box 161810
Austin, TX 78716
Phone: 800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)
National Network to End Domestic Violence
A social change organization representing state domestic violence coalitions which is dedicated to creating a social, political and economic environment in which violence against women no longer exists.
660 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, Suite 303
Washington, DC 20003
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