Support systems at home
It’s not unusual to feel alone when going through a tough time. But opening up and speaking with a small circle of trusted friends and family can help you decipher unhealthy relationship characteristics. This will enable you to identify any abuse between you and your partner. Having support systems at home will help you define and maintain a healthy, loving relationship.
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Our advocates are available 24/7 if you have questions about creating support systems at home. They can provide information or just listen to what you have to say. Our contact is free and confidential to anyone in the U.S. or territories.
What are support systems at home?
Support systems are a network of people who provide a survivor with practical and emotional support. According to the Polaris Teen Center, a support system consists of an environment where people and systems join to help with the physical, emotional, and social needs of an individual.
Tips for creating a supportive environment
At home, your family, best friends, or roommate(s) will likely provide the most immediate access to support, but it can be hard to open up, especially to a family member. While it may feel uncomfortable at first, confiding in someone you trust can open up countless possibilities toward building a system of support that’ll ultimately help you stay safer at home.
When preparing to open up about your situation for support, remember:
- Identify someone you trust.
You know your relationship situation and your family or friends better than anyone else. It’s important to consider these factors when approaching someone for support.
- Who do you feel comfortable expressing yourself to?
- Who do you feel you can lean on?
Consider people’s relationship experiences and those you admire. They may be able to help you figure out what’s important to focus on.
- Ask yourself if you’re ready to share.
Just because you’ve identified someone to talk to doesn’t mean you’re ready to talk, and that’s okay. If you want to open up to someone you haven’t spent time with lately, try finding moments to spend time together before bringing up your situation.
Spending time together may help you feel more comfortable when sharing and allows you to preview their response by discussing a separate but related topic.
- Bring up the issue.
Conversations about dating abuse are hard. If you can’t find the right words to start, consider a creative icebreaker like watching a film together that addresses dating abuse.
You can also discuss a high-profile example of abuse in the media to break down misconceptions. If you decide to take this route, share the article about dating abuse in advance and give them time to read it before discussing.
No matter how you approach the topic, what’s important (and commendable) is that you’re speaking up.
- Set your boundaries.
Consider ahead of time what role you want your support system to play: if you want someone to talk to without dispensing advice, let them know kindly; if you want the details you share to be confidential, say so directly, and make sure they understand that breaking your trust could put you in danger. You can always stop sharing if you no longer trust them with your experience.
- Always be aware that a person you tell might inform someone else.
If physical abuse is present, people you open up to may feel concerned about your safety. They may want to protect you in the ways they think are best, without knowing or understanding your full circumstances.
Realize gossip happens
Be especially careful with what you share with friends if you belong to a circle where information or gossip is regularly disseminated.
Sharing can be a risk, but the support you receive may outweigh those concerns. You know your situation best.
- Prepare for a range of reactions.
People who care about you may react strongly when you tell them about the harm you’ve experienced or are actively experiencing. They’re upset because they love you and don’t want you mistreated. Even if they express concern or support for your abusive partner because of their own personal relationships, they are ultimately concerned about the conditions you’re in without understanding the dynamics of abuse.
- We’re here to help.
If you need guidance finding your support system or just need someone to talk to, please reach out to us at any time of the day or night. We can help you find ways to open a dialogue and build a lasting support system at home.
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