We here at loveisrespect.org know that telling someone in your life that the person you are dating is abusive is not easy. We know that you don’t want to talk about it and the people in your life will probably have trouble hearing it. However, these people can help you get through this and give you the support you need.
Start small by telling the person you feel most comfortable with. If the person you want to tell is friends with or has any affiliation with your abusive partner, this is not the person to tell. Not everyone can mentor you and not everyone is able to help. The most important thing is that you find someone who can help keep you safe, makes you feel secure and does not judge what is happening or has happened to you.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to tell all of these people, but it can help if you let some of the people in your life know what is going on. What’s been happening will difficult, sometimes nearly impossible, for the people around you to wrap their head around. Here are some pointers on how to prepare for telling these people:
- Your Parents. Sitting Mom or Dad down can be really hard, but they can help you figure out the best ways to keep you safe. We often suggest to callers and chatters that they blame not being able to see an abusive partner on their parents not allowing it, so your parents can be huge allies in this. You don’t have to tell them everything, but just let them know that you’re scared of your partner and that things have happened to make you feel that way.It may be their first reaction to call his or her parents, ground you or be upset with you. Be patient with them because they are probably very upset and concerned for you. After you give them some time to process, talk about ways to keep you safe. Prepare a list of what has been threatened and what you are afraid of. For example, saying “I am afraid [insert abusive partner’s name] is going to call my phone non-stop or break into our house when no one else is home.”
- Your Friends. Make sure that these friends know not to tell your abuser or anyone who might tell your abuser that you are opening up to them. These are your friends and they care about you and your safety. What you’ve been experiencing is really traumatic and stressful and you need their nonjudgmental support right now.Your friends may not be able to solve everything, but they can help keep you safe by walking with you to class, not tweeting or Facebooking where you are and protecting you from having to see your abuser. For this conversation, prepare a list of what you are afraid of that they can help with. For example, letting them know that your abusive partner threatened to spread rumors about you can encourage them do some damage control around school.
- Your Teacher, Coach, Counselor, Band Director These people may be the ones you aren’t as comfortable telling, but they can play a part in keeping you safe at school. You don’t need to go into all of the details for this, but just try to highlight that you don’t feel safe at school and fear that someone at school is going to threaten, spread rumors about or hurt you. If you don’t feel comfortable going over this face-to-face, you can put all of this in an email and then go early to class or practice. If this person doesn’t have the solutions or help that you are needing, try to find someone else who can help you come with ways to keep you safe at school.Know that these mentors may be required by school policy to report the abuse and take disciplinary actions against your abuser.
- Your RA, property manager or security guard If there is someone in charge of keeping your apartment complex/dorm/dorm floor safe, then these are definitely people you want to tell. Prepare a list of what has been threatened and what you would like to see happen to help you feel safe. Sometimes, property managers will waive restrictions on extra deadbolts on doors if you ask. Also, a dorm RA can help you figure out the best way to make sure that your abusive partner/ex does not have access to where you live.
Even if you feel like you can handle this on your own, it is better to tell someone. They can provide you support and help protect your safety. If you need help figuring out what to say or how to educate your friends and family about dating violence, leave it to us. Have your friends and family call, chat or text us.