Dating Violence: How to get help

Dating violence is common in teenagers and young adults, so it is likely that you or someone you know could be affected by it. Knowing what dating violence is and how to recognize the signs of an abusive relationship can be an important first step. Whether you want to get help for yourself or a friend, want to learn more about dating violence, or think you may be acting abusively in your relationship, there are many resources available to you.

Our goal is to keep you safe. Please make sure you are in a safe place before accessing any resources. If you feel like you are in danger or need help immediately, please call 911.

I think I may be in an unhealthy or abusive relationship.

Remember, abuse is never your fault. When you are ready, there are many options available to you to get support. It is great if you have a friend or family member to talk to because having a support system is important. However, even though these people love and care about you, they might not know what to do if you are in an unhealthy or abusive relationship. We also encourage you to talk to other trusted adults (teachers, coaches, counselors, and healthcare providers) because they often have special training on how to deal with dating violence. However, these people may not always be available (for example during nights, weekends, or vacations), it might be difficult to find transportation, or you may feel more comfortable talking to someone you don’t know confidentially.

That is why we want to give you options to talk to trained peer advocates (someone around your age who has knowledge about dating violence) who are available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week to listen, answer questions, and connect you to resources in your area. All conversations are confidential.

 Here are some ways to get started:

Call

  • National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline
    • 1-866-331-9474 or 1-866-331-8453 for TTY
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline
    • 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 for TTY
  • LGBTQ-Friendly Resources
    • The GLBT Talkline: 1-888-843-4564
  • GLBT Youth Talkline: 1-800-246-7743
  • The Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860

 Text/Chat

  • Go to Loveisrespect.org for the most updated information on texting/chatting with a peer advocate.

 Websites

I want to ask for help. What should I say?

We understand it can be hard to talk about your relationship and sometimes even awkward if you are talking to someone you don’t know.

There is no wrong way to start the conversation, but here are some suggestions:

  • I think I might be in an unhealthy or abusive relationship. How do I know?
  • My partner does (example of behavior), is that ok?
  • I am scared of my partner. How can I stay safe?
  • How can I leave an abusive relationship?

What if it isn’t safe for me to ask for help?

Depending on your situation, some resources might be safer to use than others–we trust your judgment.

Here are some tips for reaching out to support services:

  • Delete text messages, phone call history, and Internet search history after using the resource.
  • Ask to use the phone, computer, or tablet of someone you trust to access resources.
  • Purchase a “secret” phone to keep in a safe place, so you can have access to a phone if you need to get help.
  • Use phones in the community to call a hotline. Phones are usually available at community centers or public libraries.

If you feel like you are in danger or need help immediately, please call 911.

How do I keep myself safe?

Everyone’s situation is unique, that is why we recommend developing a safety plan. Your safety plan is made just for you and can help you know what to do if you are in danger. Consider creating your safety plan with someone you trust or with the help of a peer advocate. Visit this website for more information about safety planning.

Why do some people stay in an unhealthy or abusive relationship?

It can be hard to end any relationship, and an unhealthy or abusive relationship is no exception. If you are in an abusive relationship, there can be many benefits to leaving- including improved emotional health, physical health, and relationships with other people. Most of all, you deserve to be in a relationship with a partner who respects you. Many people are afraid of what their partner might do if they end the relationship, and in some cases, it may not be safe to leave.

If you are considering leaving an abusive relationship, talk to someone you trust, make a plan to keep yourself safe, and ask for help. If you know someone in an abusive relationship, it is important to understand why they may not leave the relationship and support them, even if they decide to stay with their partner.

Here are some reasons why it can be hard to leave an abusive relationship:

  • The person may still love their partner, and it can be hard to turn these feelings off.
  • People may think they will be able to change their partner’s behavior, or it won’t happen again.
  • The victim may also feel like the abuse is their fault or not recognize the behaviors as abusive.
  • A person may rely on their partner for money, a place to live, or help with a disability.
  • Fear can play a big role in staying in an abusive relationship. An abusive partner may threaten to reveal information (sexual orientation, immigration status, intimate photo) or hurt their partner if they end the relationship.

My friend is in an abusive relationship, what should I do?

It can be very hard to see someone you care about in an abusive relationship. Remember the abuse is never their fault and they are the only one who can decide to leave the relationship.

Here are some of the ways you can help:

  • Tell your friend you are concerned about them. Even if they don’t show it, they will appreciate knowing that you are there for them.
  • Provide support, listen, and remind your friend the abuse is never their fault.
  • Encourage your friend to talk to a trusted adult and safely access resources.
  • Work with your friend to create a safety plan.
  • Avoid confronting the abuser. You are unlikely to make the abuser change their actions, and this may make the situation worse.
  • Take care of yourself. It is normal to feel overwhelmed when someone you care about is struggling. You should talk to a trusted adult (parent, teacher, coach, counselor), healthcare provider, or peer advocate (resources above) about your feelings and how to help your friend.

You may also find yourself in a situation where you notice a friend is behaving violently towards their partner. It can be hard to admit your friend is abusive, but ignoring these behaviors is the same as encouraging them. Help your friend recognize their behaviors are wrong and encourage them to get professional help. Don’t blame the partner for the abuse or try to justify your friend’s behavior. Educate your friend on healthy relationships and set a good example in your own relationships. If you have questions on how to help a friend who is behaving abusively, you should talk to a trusted adult, healthcare provider, or peer advocate (resources above).

I’ve been abusive in my relationship. What should I do?

Recognizing your behavior as unhealthy or abusive is the first step to changing your behavior. It is important to realize that you have control over your behavior. In order to stop being abusive, it is important to get help from a professional. You should talk to a healthcare professional or a trained peer advocate (resources above) about accessing resources near you. You may feel uncomfortable talking to someone about your behavior, but remember, these individuals are trained to get you the help you need and will be there to support you. If you are committed to changing your behavior and accept help from others, you will be able to have healthy relationships in the future.

Most importantly, you should respect your partner’s decision to end the relationship or get help from the police or legal system. Even if you are working on changing your behavior, your partner always has a right to be safe.

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