support-systems

Building Support Systems While in an Unhealthy Relationship

Sometimes building and maintaining support systems can be tricky in a relationship. Time that you would have usually dedicated to friends is now being spent on the relationship, or maybe your partner is getting jealous when you talk or hang out with others. It’s normal if these behaviors are making you feel lonely, especially if your partner asked you to not talk about your relationship to other people.

Feeling isolated because of your relationship is unhealthy and can even be considered an abusive relationship if your partner is actively trying to keep you from communicating with others. Feeling isolated can happen at anytime during a relationship, especially if you moved in with an abusive partner. Everyone deserves to have a support system, whether their relationship is generally pretty healthy or if their relationship has become abusive. If you are in an unhealthy relationship and are wondering how to build a support system you might ask:

“What does a normal support system look like?”

Sometimes isolation can happen without you even noticing! It’s important to remember that a support system is made of people you feel comfortable confiding in. Most people look for a trusted friend, teacher, supervisor or family member they can turn to for help, but it can be anybody you’re comfortable talking to.

“Where do I go to meet new people and make friends?”

Making new friends can be hard, but one way a lot of people meet is through extracurricular activities. If there is a team or group on campus that seems interesting, give it a try! Workplaces are also a great way to meet new people. Giving a helping hand or using smalltalk as an icebreaker can be a starting place to getting to know people.  There are lots of other places to meet people with similar interests in your area, like neighborhood sports leagues, online communities, yoga classes, volunteering opportunities and more. Find out your interests to see what best fits with your schedule and lifestyle.

“How can I make friends/build a support system safely without my abusive partner knowing?”

Sometimes an abusive partner prevents you from easily communicating with others. You can try connecting with people online by joining existing communities like reddit or Youtube, finding old friends on Facebook, or using a fandom to find people that love the same things you do. It’s important to make sure your devices aren’t being monitored and to clear your browser history after going online.  It’s not a permanent replacement for face-to-face interactions, but it can be great place to start.

If you plan to secretly spend time with family, friends, or a support group, it is okay to not give out the real meeting location to your partner if you feel confident your story will hold up. You can also let your supporters know anything you want to keep secret, like your location, and share the fact that breaking your trust may put you in danger. You have a right to a healthy and safe relationship, and if that means keeping secrets that’s truly okay. Maybe you’re late because of detention, attending extra church services, or working late. Whatever you decide, it’s good to have documentation or details to back it up. Oftentimes being a survivor means being a good actor.

The desire to have friends is completely normal, and does not mean that you’re valuing your relationship any less. No matter where you’re at in building a support system, it’s important to remember that your safety is a priority and you deserve to have positive relationships in your life. Everyone needs people they can talk to and your relationship status does not change this. If you want to talk about your situation with a peer advocate, call, chat, or text us anytime!