Hi, Rachel here again. Since my last blog post, I have officially completed my first week and a half of training- 25 hours total (only 15 more to go!). Even though I am so ready to spend my Saturdays reading by the pool instead of inside of a conference room, I am still worried about how I will do after training. I definitely don’t feel ready yet to actually take calls and chats, but I will say I’m getting there. Here’s an update on what I’ve learned.
Everyone has a story.
In these 25 hours, I have really gotten to know my fellow advocates-in-training. A lot of the classes are discussion-driven, so we spend a lot of time sharing our views and personal experiences. The discussions are really lively and you can immediately tell that all of us are really passionate (by the fact that we are there at 9 a.m. on Saturdays alone).
It seems like everyone has a tie to the issue of dating abuse. One advocate wants to work with teens as a high school guidance counselor, while another stumbled across this issue after a background in human trafficking prevention. There are a few advocates who have survived dating abuse themselves, and their input has really opened my eyes.
What would you do in this example?
We had a discussion on what to say to a friend or parent of someone experiencing dating abuse. It is very common for friends and parents to call in for advice on what steps to take. Obviously, since they care about this person, their first instinct is to force that person to stop seeing their partner. This made perfect sense to me. Where this goes wrong was definitely the most surprising lesson of last week for me.
However, the training leaders cautioned that this is not the best course of action. Forcing the relationship to end can cause the friend or child to feel like they are being judged for not getting out of the relationship and worse, that they cannot come to their parent or friend to talk about the relationship. The best way a friend or parent can help someone in a dating abuse situation is to keep the lines of communication open and offer nonjudgmental support.
They say to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.
It didn’t make sense to me until we did some role plays that really put me in the head of someone who is looking for someone to listen, but finding only judgmental parents and friends. In the exercise, I had to play the part of the isolated, emotionally abused partner whose parents, after I told them, then said that I could no longer see him. I was hurt, angry, and confused. All I needed was a nonjudgmental listener.
I am learning so much from the training and even from my fellow advocates. With this blog, I’ll try to keep you up to date about news stories and popular culture examples that show dating abuse.
If you want to get involved like me, check out this page. If you think you or someone you know might be in an unhealthy relationship, there is an advocate standing by to answer your call or chat.