Dating and domestic violence occur in immigrant communities at similar rates as non-immigrant communities. However, immigrant communities are often at greater risks — due to language barriers, social isolation, lack of information, lack of financial resources, cultural beliefs, not knowing our rights and sometimes the fear of deportation. Abuse often goes unreported, and victims do not receive the services they need. Sometimes immigration status gets in the way of looking for help and support, because sometimes we just don’t know what’s going to happen when we look.
“I’ll kill myself if you leave me.”
It seems like a no-win situation. When someone you’re close to says something like this, it can feel like the world just stopped spinning.
People who have a mental illness, such as Borderline Personality Disorder, typically have a higher risk for suicide. Depression, a history of substance abuse, and other disorders carry risks as well. If your partner truly wishes to die and has a plan and intention to follow through, get immediate help. Call your local emergency number, or call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
But what if your partner regularly threatens suicide, particularly whenever you’re not doing something they want you to do? First, understand that this is a form of emotional abuse: your partner is trying to manipulate you by playing on your feelings of love and fear for them. You might get angry when this happens, but you also might feel stuck giving in to them in order to avoid a potential tragedy. When your partner makes these threats repeatedly, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and possibly help your partner as well:
By Tara, a loveisrespect advocate
One in three adolescents in the U.S. will be the victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner. This figure is much higher than any other type of youth
violence. And abuse isn’t just happening in heterosexual relationships. It affects all types of people and relationships. It doesn’t discriminate.
We understand that break ups are hard, and they’re even more difficult when someone is pregnant. If you’re pregnant and find yourself wanting to leave an abusive relationship, we’ll discuss two legal steps you can take that can be immensely helpful to expecting women.
We were lucky enough to talk to Tonya Turner, the Senior Staff Attorney at our partner Break the Cycle, about legal actions pregnant women take while leaving an abusive relationship.
Protective orders, or restraining orders, are the first step because they can keep you safe from the abuser immediately, as they restrict the targeted person from communicating with you.
Custody orders determine who has legal custody of the child at different times. These are something you want to get a head start on. Because custody orders can’t be filed until the child is born, preparing for the custody order hearings ahead of time is in the best interest of you and your child.
Remember that you should only take these steps if this is something you are ready for. Leaving an abusive relationship is dangerous, and even more so when you’re pregnant. For more info about protective orders, tune in tomorrow for an entire blog post dedicated to them, and look for a custody orders post later this week.
It doesn’t make sense – you see your best friend, brother, sister, daughter, son, cousin, relative in tears constantly because of their relationship. You’ve heard their partner call them names, threaten them and then blame your friend or loved one for their harmful behavior. Your friend has become a shell of who they used to be. It is simple to you: break up with the partner and the problem is solved. No more tears, bruises, or heartbreak.
It’s just not that easy.
There are many reasons your friend or loved one may be resisting your heartfelt encouragement to break it off with his or her partner:
You’ve seen it on Teen Mom, watched a few Lifetime movies, you’re an expert, right? Well, here at loveisrespect, as much as we are glad the subject of dating abuse is out there, sometimes these shows aren’t giving the full story. We want you to have the full story.
Here are five common misconceptions about dating abuse:
We here at loveisrespect love taking your phone calls and chats. We answer calls and chats 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Our calls and chats are coming in from all over the country and the concerns of the callers and chatters are as diverse as they are. We hear from just about everyone: a teenage girl not sure if her boyfriend’s pressure to get physical is normal, a mother concerned about her son’s constant texting to his girlfriend, even callers who are just a tad uncomfortable with their partner’s behavior and aren’t sure what to do about it. Many times, we are cautiously asked by the caller or chatter, “Do I have the right number? Is this what you guys do?”
We’d like to take this post to answer that for you.
Hi, Rachel and Nicole here. During our training, we debunked a lot of myths about domestic violence. Most of the facts really scared us for the callers and chatters experiencing domestic violence firsthand, but some were more surprising than others. Here are a few things we didn’t know before training. Did you know these facts?
- Age isn’t just a number. Studies suggest that between 3.5 and 10 million children are exposed to domestic violence annually. While it is obviously traumatic for any child to witness domestic violence, children exposed during the first few years of development are likely to demonstrate higher levels of emotional and psychological distress than older children. This surprised us because it seems like younger children would not yet understand what is going on, but they are at a more impressionable state in life and a violent environment is incredibly harmful for their development.
- Teens are more at risk than adults. A 2006 Liz Claiborne Foundation study found that teenagers have a higher risk of domestic violence than adults, though there are less available resources. Teens have often never been educated about healthy relationships and are coerced into abusive situations without knowledge of red flags or how to get help. We agreed that teens should be made aware of dating abuse prevention and healthy relationship promotion to help them recognize an unhealthy relationship before it becomes abusive.
- The most dangerous time in an abusive relationship is when the abused partner tries to leave. This was not what we expected either, but it does make sense. Think about it- if you’re an abuser who has been controlling your partner for the past six months, and then your partner leaves. The abuser is willing to do anything to get that control back. We watched this video that really brought home this point. It takes, on average, seven attempts to leave before a partner leaves their abuser for good and this is part of the reason why.
- Pregnant women are twice as likely to be abused by their partner. There was silence in our training room after this statistic was read. The reason may be that an abuser knows the pregnant woman can’t leave as easily or he or she might need an outlet for the stress of having a baby on the way.
- Less than 25 percent of teens say that they have discussed dating violence with their parents. Dating abuse is way more prevalent than we had thought, and parents obviously don’t know this either. Many times, one of our advocates is the first person a teen has spoken to if they’re in an unhealthy relationship. We’re always here, but parents can help us by talking with their teens about healthy relationships.
Now that we have finished training, we are practically certified in domestic violence and dating abuse awareness. Is there anything you would like to know?
If you or a friend may be in an unhealthy relationship, there is an advocate waiting to answer your call or chat.
Rihanna and Chris Brown made headlines last week when they started following each other on Twitter. Fans were especially outraged when Rihanna began following Brown. Rihanna responded to the outrage with this tweet:
“its f—– twitter, not the alter! calm down”
We’re not here to judge Rihanna. We know how hard it is to leave an abusive relationship, and it has to be even harder when you know that the world is watching. However, we want to talk about this situation with our readers because leaving an abuser can be a continuous act. Breaking up isn’t enough. Staying apart is crucial too.
We’ve all heard that question — can you ever really be friends with your ex? This question gets a lot more complicated with this addition — can you be friends with an abusive ex?
We at loveisrespect don’t recommend it. We know it’s hard to walk away from someone who you’ve shared your life with, but getting weighed down in the past can make it hard to move forward.
Here are some problems with keeping in touch with an abusive ex, especially on Twitter:
- Continued contact can allow an abuser to monitor your progress
- The abuse can continue if the person gets back in touch with you (though DMs, @ mentions, messages, etc.)
- It can be hard to move on and start another healthy dating relationship if you feel like you’re being watched or constantly reminded of your ex
- Seeing your ex in your newsfeed can bring back those bad feelings that you’re trying to get over
- Following their day-to-day happenings, especially about their new love life, can distract you from healing
If you are in Chris Brown’s situation, and you were the cause of your abusive relationship, keep in mind that following/friending your ex can put you at risk of falling back into past harmful behavior. Minimize any obstacles that could affect your self-improvement.
We wanted to give a shoutout to Rihanna’s fans who quickly spoke up about the situation. It’s hard when someone you love is still healing after an abusive relationship. We want to encourage all friends of dating abuse victims to act like Rihanna’s fans, and have your friend’s back in times like this.
What do you think about the situation? Do you think it’s harmful for Rihanna and Chris to still talk or not?
I really want to break up with my girlfriend, but she says that if I do, she’ll tell my family that I’m gay. I don’t want to see her anymore. She freaks out if I talk to any of my friends, and she always has to know where I am. But my parents don’t know that I’m a lesbian, and I’m afraid of how they’ll react if she tells them. I don’t know what to do. Can you help me?
Obviously, it’s really unfair of your girlfriend to put you in this situation. She is trying to keep you in the relationship by blackmailing you. An abusive or controlling person will often make threats to reveal secrets to friends or family in order to have control over their partner.
It sounds like you really want to end this relationship, and with good reason. Hopefully, she won’t follow through with her threats if you do break up with her. You shouldn’t be forced to come out to anyone before you’re ready. If you think she is serious, you may even want to consider telling your parents first – but that is up to you. An organization like the GLBT National Youth Talkline can offer you peer counseling concerning coming out and parent issues.
We hope you’ll also call or chat with one of our Peer Advocates about your relationship and ending it safely. Our advocates are trained to help teens in any type of dating relationship. Your call or chat will remain confidential – you don’t even have to give your name. You can call 1-866-331-9474 (1-866-331-8453 TTY) or chat with us through www.loveisrespect.org.
Loveisrespect is the ultimate resource to empower youth to prevent and end dating abuse. It is a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
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© 2016 – National Domestic Violence Hotline
This project was supported by Grant Number 90EV0426 from the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Family and Youth Services Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The opinions, findings, conclusions and recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Family and Youth Services Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
This website is funded in part through a grant from the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Neither the U.S. Department of Justice nor any or its components operate, control, are responsible for, or necessarily endorse, this website (including, without limitations, its content, technical infrastructure, and policies, and any services or tools provided).