Friends hugging and giving consolation

“Why Do They Keep Going Back?”

It can be so tough to watch someone you care about deal with an abusive relationship. Even more difficult is watching that person leave and return to their partner, time and time again. You might feel frustrated, angry or you may even feel like giving up on your friend or family member. These are all totally normal and understandable feelings to have.

But it’s important to remember that dating abuse is extremely complex. Leaving an abusive relationship is never easy, and it isn’t always the safest option. In fact, some studies say that survivors of abuse return to their abusive partners an average of seven times before they leave for good. That may sound unbelievable or unreasonable to a person who has never experienced abuse. But there are many reasons why a person might stay or return to their abusive partner. As frustrating as this may be, someone in a position to support a survivor can play a crucial role in the survivor’s ability to stay safe or even leave for good.

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biphobia and bisexuality: image of a person with glasses a hat and tattoo on forearm looking down

Biphobia is Real…and Really Hurtful: Part 2

By Heather, an advocate. This is part two of a two-part series. This post is for partners, friends and parents of bi+ folks. Read the first post for bi+ folks here!

There are a lot of harmful myths out there about bisexual people and bisexuality. If you love someone who identifies as bisexual, (or pan- or polysexual, hetero- or homoflexible, or Queer & non-monosexual), here are a few examples of the hurtful things they’ve probably heard at some point:

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biphobia and bisexuality: image of a young person with dark curly hair standing in tall grass looking to the side

Biphobia is Real…and Really Hurtful: Part 1

By Heather, an advocate. This is the first of a two-part series. This post is for bi+ folks!

Hey bisexual readers, we see you! March is Bisexual Health Awareness Month, so we want to talk about the health of your relationships.

If you’re bisexual (or pan- or polysexual, hetero- or homoflexible, or Queer & non-monosexual) it’s possible that your sexuality has caused some concerns or confusion in your relationship. (Sadly, bisexual women are more likely than any other group to experience intimate partner violence.) We’re here to tell you that none of this is your fault! Healthy relationships are based on trust, honesty, respect and equality. Everyone, of every sexual orientation, deserves that. No matter which gender you or your partner are, your bisexuality is valid.

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Photograph of a sunny windowsill looking out into a backyard with a potted plant in the foreground

Emotional Safety Planning

This post was written by Diane, an advocate

A safety plan can help you stay safe while in an abusive relationship, while preparing to leave an abusive relationship or after leaving. Often, people focus on planning around physical safety, but it’s important to consider your emotional safety as well.

Emotional safety can look different for different people. Ultimately, it’s about developing a personalized plan that helps you feel accepting of your emotions and decisions when dealing with abuse. Below are some ideas for how to create and maintain an emotional safety plan that works for you.

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Portrait image of a young woman with short black hair looking off to the side

Dealing with Shame After Abuse

By Anitra, loveisrespect youth organizer

You probably heard the recent news about actor Johnny Depp allegedly abusing his wife Amber Heard. Although Heard’s case against Depp was strong enough for her to secure a restraining order, people still came to his rescue and accused her of making false allegations.

It wasn’t surprising to see the usual pattern of victim blaming and shaming that usually occurs with domestic violence. People expressed disbelief and came to Depp’s defense to say, “I don’t believe he is capable of doing something like that.” There was shock: “He’s just not that type of person.” And people shamed Heard by calling her names, trying to discredit her and asking, “Why didn’t she come forward sooner?”

That last question is pretty commonly asked of domestic violence survivors: “Why didn’t they speak up sooner?”, “Why didn’t they just leave?”, “Why didn’t they tell anyone?” After being a peer advocate for loveisrespect, speaking with dating abuse survivors and experiencing abuse myself, I can provide an answer to those questions: shame. Shame (among other factors) often makes victims feel like they are trapped, like they are silenced, like there is no way out. Shame is what keeps many victims from coming forward.

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Help, My Partner is Blackmailing Me!

“If you don’t do what I tell you to do, I’ll tell your parents we had sex.”

“If you break up with me, I’ll post those pics everywhere…”

If your partner makes threats like this, they’re putting you in a really tough spot. This type of threat is called blackmail, and you might feel like you have no option but to do what your partner says. Blackmailing is a form of emotional abuse and, like all abuse, is about power and control. A person who uses this tactic wants to make you afraid of some consequence in order to get you to do what they want.

In order for a relationship to be healthy, partners must trust that when they set boundaries and are intimate with each other, both people will uphold those boundaries and neither will attempt to hurt the other partner. Making threats like this is a violation of that trust. Threats are not a sign of love or care, but of manipulation and control. You never deserve to be threatened, no matter what, and you are never responsible for your partner’s choice to be abusive. Unfortunately that doesn’t make dealing with threats like this any easier. So what can you do if your partner is blackmailing you and trying to get you to do something you don’t want to do?

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Peer Advocates and Professional Counselors: What’s the Difference?

This post was written by Ashley, a loveisrespect intern.

Here at loveisrespect, we’re often asked what the differences are between our peer advocates and professional counselors. Loveisrespect advocates and professional counselors can both be part of your overall support system, but we each provide different levels of support. Here’s a quick breakdown to help clarify these differences:

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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:

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Help a Friend With Dating Abuse

Watch Margaret, one of loveisrespect’s peer advocates, and learn how you can help a friend suffering from dating abuse. You can make the difference in your friend recognizing that abuse is NOT normal and NOT their fault. But, you’ll have to remember to focus on supporting your friend. Call 1-866-331-9474 or text “loveis” to 22522 to speak with one of our trained peer advocates at any time about dating abuse.

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