Supporting someone who’s going through an abusive relationship is hard. It may seem like they face one obstacle after another. This is especially true if the person you’re trying to help is LGBTQ. But don’t give up! The principles for supporting those in unhealthy relationships are the same regardless of that person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. That said, there are a few things to keep in mind when helping someone who’s LGBTQ:
- Be Open. LGBTQ people often face a lot of judgment and discrimination. You can create a safe place by simply being willing to talk and not passing judgment. Start by listening and asking open-ended questions.
- Confront Your Prejudice. It may be uncomfortable, but it’s important to examine yourself and the assumptions you make. Think about the jokes you tell and the pronouns you use. Have you ever assumed someone’s partner was of the opposite sex only later to find out you were wrong? How would you feel if people around you made jokes about an important part of your identity? Examine your behavior and focus on how to be a better ally.
- Challenge Your Assumptions. Think about what being a “man” or “woman” means to you. How do those ideas affect your ability to be a strong ally? Do they influence your judgments, words or actions? Try to be open to other definitions and see where it takes you.
- Respect the Pronouns. When someone tells you what pronoun they prefer, use it. Always. If you’re unsure of what to use, try “them” or “they.”
- Check Your Resources. Loveisrespect is an open environment and we’re trained to address the additional issues LGBTQ youth face. Feel free to contact us or pass our information on. However, the person you’re supporting may feel more comfortable contacting a resource that’s LGBTQ-specific. If so, check out the Northwest Network, GLBT National Help Center and The Trevor Project.