Support systems at school
It’s easy to feel lonely when you’re going through a challenging period, especially if part of that challenge is dealing with the effects of dating abuse. Remember that there are people around you who can help, including us: our advocates are available 24/7 to help you identify support systems in your life and answer any questions you might have about staying safer at school.
Most schools will have some form of institutional support that you can access including teachers, counselors, or administrators; there are also less formal types of support including friends, classmates, mentors, or student groups. Identifying who you can turn to and for what will help make it easier to reach out for support when you need it.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when thinking about where to go for support:
- Identify people you can trust.
Friends are the people most likely to know about and witness any abuse you’re experiencing, making them valuable sources for support at school, but confronting the realities of dating abuse can cause people to assume they know what’s best for you without understanding all the circumstances.
Try to pick people who are likely to support you in your decision-making regardless of their preferred outcomes and know that school employees are generally required by law to report abuse they learn of.
- Set boundaries.
Meaningful support depends on trust and you should be careful with who you open to, recognizing that you can only control your own actions, not someone else’s. Be very clear about what information is private and make sure they understand that breaking your trust could put you in danger.
- Support comes in many forms.
The people you open up to may vary depending on what type of support you’re seeking and it’s important to consider who is best equipped to provide what you need. People at school can support you by doing things like:
- helping you create and follow a safety plan
- walking you to and from class for security
- making sure you aren’t alone with a partner who abuses you
- carrying important items you don’t want your partner to know about
- making sure you have rides to get places when you need them.
Others in your community like mentors or faith leaders may be able to offer perspectives that share your values or guidance on how to process your feelings, and also may have more discretion in reporting abuse that occurs. There’s no limit to the number of ways you might access support: what’s important is listening to yourself to identify what you need and the right person to help.
- Anticipate strong reactions.
Learning that someone you care about it experiencing abuse can be overwhelming, and people you inform about your situation may react in a way that makes you feel like they’re upset with you. They’re upset because they love you and don’t want you to be mistreated, even if their reaction is to rant against (or possibly defend) your partner.
It’s okay to let them know that such behaviors hurt and aren’t helpful to you.
- We’re here for you.
Contact love is respect 24/7 to connect with an advocate, discuss support systems at school, or just talk to someone who will listen without judgement. Our services are always free and confidential, but remember that we’re not legal advocates and can’t provide legal advice; we can however refer you to legal resources and services.