Ask an Advocate

Do you have relationship questions but don’t know who to ask? The Ask an Advocate series is here to help! At loveisrespect, our advocates talk to young people every day about various situations related to dating, healthy relationships, unhealthy and abusive behaviors. We know how difficult it can be to talk about these issues sometimes, but know that we are here to listen!

Chances are, if you have questions others may have questions too—and our loveisrespect advocates are ready to help you with whatever questions you may have! Remember, answers are not advice! We know there’s no one-size-fits-all-answer when it comes to dating and relationships, so we want to continue with our mission to empower young people affected by dating abuse while providing you with a guide to help you make the healthiest choices for you and those you care about.

How do you submit your questions to Ask an Advocate?

Submitting your questions to Ask an Advocate is super simple!

  • Send us a private message via Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr and Instagram with your “ask.”
  • Our handle is @loveisrespect and @loveisrespectofficial on Instagram.
  • Our advocates will respond to your queries in the order they were received.
  • No real names, please! Use a code name to help keep you safe.

How do you read the responses to your questions in Ask an Advocate?

Please send a code name along with your “ask” so we can customize our response.

Are there any rules for posting your questions to Ask an Advocate?

Since it will be a one-time answer, we ask that the “asks” are scenarios that can be responded to in that manner. If our advocates feel that an “ask” would need further discussion and/or safety planning, we will recommend reaching out directly to loveisrespect via call, chat or text message for direct advocacy.

But wait, who’s actually answering these “asks?”

Finally! We were waiting for you to mention it! We have our panel of advocates below! They each have their own vibrant personalities and advocacy magic. We hope you enjoy and above all else, we hope this is a great resource for those with questions regarding relationships! Now give us your best shot!

Ask An Advocate Bios

Bryan

Hola! My name is Bryan. He/Him are my preferred pronouns. Whenever I have conversations with my friends, I can’t help but tie a lot of the things that we talk about back to healthy relationships! I am always looking for opportunities to share what I’ve learned over the past years with others who may have concerns, questions or just want to talk about how amazing a healthy relationship can be. I think loveisrespect is one of the greatest resources out there! Check it out for yourself and let us know if you have a question!

 

Kimmiko

I have been with The Hotline/LIR since December. I have advocated for people of all ages and demographics. The most fulfilling part of my work is to help people transform from victims to survivors. I’m also a fiction novelist and looking forward to answering some questions!

 

Enrique

Hola, I’m Enrique! I have been an advocate here for two years. I am very excited to respond to y’all around the questions and concerns y’all might have around relationships, I cannot wait to hear from y’all. Take it easy, despacito, and take good care of yourself!

 

Rebecca

Mornin’ y’all! My name is Rebecca and I have been with the Hotline for six and a half years. I have been a phone advocate, a 2 a.m. ukulele soloist, collector of Frida paraphernalia, and an EMPOWERING AND FABULOUS manager (haha!).  As an avid–and often embarrassed–reader of bad romance novels it’s really hit home that what is truly unhealthy, or even downright abusive, can be cast as the norm in relationship examples we see every day. I am diving into the Ask an Advocate project to get the chance to give folks the tools to understand what makes a healthy relationship, what are red flags and how to take care of yourself throughout any relationship.


Question from Anonymous 

My first boyfriend was kind of weird: He didn’t like me playing video games or watching movies that had nudity in them and would scold me if I did? (even if they were just female boobsI’m a hetero girl!). He’d say to me, “it’s disgusting.” Would that count as abuse?

Advocate Response

Dear Anonymous,

It is anyone’s prerogative to like or dislike any forms of entertainment like video games and X-rated movies. With that in mind, no person has the right to try and control what you watch just because they don’t like it! When you are in a relationship, it is healthy to make compromises for the betterment of the relationship, but it is not up to your partner to set up the rules. Just because he doesn’t like it, it doesn’t mean you have to refrain from it if you don’t want to. It is OK for him to express how he feels about video games and movies with nudity, however, it would be considered abusive if he scolded you or pestered you about it. Once you set your stance on how you feel, it is not his place to try and change you–that is a red flag for a controlling behavior! If you look at it like this: he is your partner, not a parent. Forcing you to abstain from nudity and trying to make you feel guilty or bad about is wrong. This type of behavior is usually a red flag for other controlling and abusive behaviors. We hope this helps! 


Question from Anonymous 

My abuser and I volunteer at the same place. I really want to go back and help but I get triggered by them. I would love to talk to them about what happened, but they absolutely refuse.

Advocate Response

Dear Anonymous,

It is hard for a victim to see her abuser in a work or volunteer setting. Abusers are known to antagonize their victims and even try to get them in trouble or fired in retaliation for leaving the relationship. Victims may also be emotionally triggered by constant contact with their abusers which may affect their ability to do their job duties. In general, it is dangerous for a victim to have any contact with an abuser because exposes them to further manipulation and increases the risk of physical violence.

I encourage you to try and find a similar place to volunteer or work. Unfortunately, abusers aren’t likely to compromise in these situations so it will probably be up to you to give up the position or find another place to volunteer. But consider this: even though you may feel you are taking a loss by giving up your volunteer position what you gain is so much more valuable. You gain back your power and the freedom to live a happy, abuse-free life.

It is also difficult to leave an abusive relationship without closure or some type of resolution. Often times victims are left with a sense of injustice and confusion. The odds of an abuser granting you closure is unlikely, however. Abusers are all about having power and control. One way abusers maintain power is by denying their victims the closure they need or validating their feelings and experiences.

In fact, instead of acknowledging their fault or take responsibility for their actions, abusers will use the opportunity to manipulate their victim into coming back. Because of this, it’s best not to even have the conversation with an abuser. There are other ways for victims to gain closure like domestic violence counseling and support groups, talking to friends and family, journaling, creating art as well as a number of other ideas and outlets that can be found on our websites, Loveisrespect.org and Thehotline.org.


Question from donotbeembarrased

Hi! I work as a waitress at a dinner and I have a huge crush on one of the waiters. The problem is he’s 25 and I’m 18. He almost asked me out twice (I think). Should I just go ahead and do it myself? What do 25 year olds even like to do? People also tell me if a girl asks out a guy, then the guy would take advantage of her and I don’t know.

Advocate Response

Hello!

Romance can be a lot of fun! If you both get along well, go for it! Be sure that you are asking him out respectfully, though. Invite him to do something that you both like to do, or maybe try something new together!

It is true that with a bigger age gap between partners, there is a higher risk of abusive behaviors, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Regardless of age, if partners treat each other equally and respectfully, you can have a great, healthy relationship! Be sure to keep your eye out for red flags that could pop up in relationships with large age differences. Age is not an excuse for abusive behavior!

Be respectful, be yourself, and be sure to have fun! If you need someone to talk to, we are available 24/7 via phone, call, chat, and text and our services are anonymous and confidential.


Question from Anonymous

Hi. I’m in a relationship with an individual with physical/learning disabilities, and he can be really rude, controlling, selfish and manipulating. I’ve been with him for 7 years and I don’t know how should go about leaving this unhealthy relationship. I haven’t been happy for a while, but he can’t grasp it. I even told him to go on your website to learn about relationships and abuse. He still doesn’t get it. What should I do?

Advocate Response

It sounds like you have made a great effort to help him understand his abusive behaviors, and he still isn’t getting it. You don’t owe it to him to stick around until he understands what he is doing. Abusers can change, but only if they are willing, and it doesn’t sound like he is willing. You deserve a relationship that is healthy and respectful! If you are ready to leave the relationship, be sure to consider your safety as you plan. Give us a call or chat with us and we can help you figure out your options as you go through this difficult time!


Question from Anonymous

I’ve been with my boyfriend for almost 6 months now but I still get anxious when he adds other girls on Facebook because even though he says he isn’t going anywhere, I’m still afraid he will find someone better than me and it makes me really anxious. I just want to be normal and not think these things.

Advocate Response

I completely understand how you’re feeling. Jealousy is a normal feeling that people can get about certain situations. It sounds like your boyfriend has been reassuring you when you do start to feel anxious and that’s great. Healthy partners are able respect their partner’s friendships outside of the relationship. I think maintaining open communication when you start to feel this way is important, so you’re able to talk to your partner about what exactly is making you anxious. When you do start to feel anxious, another tip could be to go and do something for yourself that you enjoy outside of the relationship. Self-care is super important because it’s how we take care of our emotional well-being.


Question from Anonymous

My two friends have been in a relationship for years. I have witness several instances of psychological and verbal and emotional abuse. The abused reached out to me for help when she had a chance, because we pretty much only see each other when the abuser is there. What should I do about it? 

Advocate Response

Woah! I am glad your friend built the courage to reach out to you for support! And seeing that you too are reaching out to better support her validates how great of a friend you are.

I can imagine witnessing your friend enduring abuse from her partner (who is also your friend) must have felt very disturbing, and disheartening. It’s so difficult to watch someone you care about being hurt by their own partner. It’s always tough when you are friends with both of them. It’s important to remember that what her partner is doing is not okay, since no one deserves abuse, especially from someone they’d expect to care and support them.

Abuse is cruel, confusing and a choice her partner is deliberately making to diminish her sense of identity, self-worth and dignity. It can be a safe idea to only support her when her partner isn’t around since abusive partners tend to isolate their partners from support. When it’s safe, it would be helpful to remind and reassure her that every human being is always worthy of being treated with basic respect and dignity, including her!–and that you’re concerned for her emotional safety. Most importantly, honoring that she knows her situation best and respect every decision she makes. You can also offer what you’d like to, whether that’s a listening ear, a place to stay, self-care plans or safety plan with her. Or anything you can to help humanize her–and shift power back to her. Also, it can be safe to keep in mind that ending an abusive relationships tends to be the most dangerous times in the relationship, so you can encourage her not to tell her partner any contemplations or steps she might take to end the relationship.

Last but not least, you can talk with us, and you can motivate your friend to do so too. We are here to support 24/7/365 via call, chat or text! I am so grateful that she has a support person like you in her circle.  


Question from Anonymous

I emotionally abused my former girlfriend and I want to get help. Its rare to find help for those who have abused. It’s a mistake for us to try and get back together again, but want to prove her and everyone else that an abuser can change. 

Advocate Response

Hi! Thanks for reaching out. It is super important to take ownership of what you need to do in order to ensure your future relationships are healthy and I appreciate your honesty in understanding how it is not a good idea for you to try to get back together with your ex.  

A healthy relationship is based on trust, honesty, respect and equality. We actually have daily conversations with people who have identified abusive behaviors within themselves. If you would like help in trying to change, we would be more than happy to have a more in-depth chat about your needs and what steps you might be able to take to make that happen.

Wanting to get help is a great start! It is essential to provide yourself with enough space to really focus on the work you will be doing to change as well as an opportunity for your former girlfriend to receive the support and help she may need to heal.

Another thing I will add is that it might be a better to not approach this with the goal of proving to your ex or everyone else that you can change, but instead make the commitment to change for yourself. Remind yourself that you deserve to have a safe and healthy relationship and so does the person you are with.

You are always welcome to reach out to us 24/7/365.


Question from Anonymous

Is it normal to get jealous when my boyfriend messages his friends when he’s with me or when he tells me he will go or went out with them? I don’t make a scene and try to control my feelings, but when I’m not having a good mood in general (like when I’m on my period) I start crying and get angry. I don’t know why I feel this way, maybe because I don’t have friends I can hang out with. I don’t know. Any advice? 

Advocate Response

It sounds like you are being incredibly selfreflective in an effort to get to the bottom of why you’re feeling this waywhich is not an easy task!

Jealousy is a normal emotion to have; it is how we display jealousy that determines whether our behavior is healthy or unhealthy. Feeling comfortable in your relationship to express how something makes you feel is important, and it looks like you may be making such an effort to bottle it all up that it bubbles over sometimes in an unhealthy way! Maybe taking some time, when nothing has happened and emotions are mellow to talk to your partner about how you feelwill help you feel more grounded and comfortable. 

In a healthy relationshipit is important for each partner to maintain their individual lives outside of the relationship, like work, hobbies or friendships. It helps build a strong foundation when each partner is feeling “whole. You mentioned that you feel pretty isolatedThis may be a time to look into things that you enjoy and building relationships with others that can help build you up and help you grow too! I hope this helps! 


Question from Anonymous

My current boyfriend has been acting quite distant lately, like he just can’t look me in the eyesI can tell he doesn’t want to talk about whatever is bothering him. What should I do? 

Advocate Response

Communication is an important element in a healthy relationship, so I commend you for wanting to talk over whatever is bothering your partner. 

When your partner is being distant and doesn’t want to share why, it could be for a number of reasons. It’s best not to assume even if something has occurred and you feel his treatment is directly related to that. What you can do is find a good time and place to sit with your partner and have a conversation. For example, you can plan to talk with your partner when you know he has the time like on an off day. Also, you can plan to talk to your boyfriend in a safe and neutral place. Maybe a place that is public but you can still have a private conversation (like a park). You can start the conversation by saying how you’ve been feeling in regard to your boyfriend’s distance and encourage him to open up about what’s going on. If he resists initially, you can explain how feel about the relationship and how you want to make sure you both feel comfortable expressing your feelings. The latter maybe a roundabout way to spark conversation but it just might be the in you need to get your partner to talk.  

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