Support systems at home

It’s not unusual to feel alone when you’re going through a tough time, especially if your partner has isolated you physically or emotionally from people you depended on before your relationship.

Remember that there are people all around who can help you (and who want to), including us.

Our advocates are available 24/7 to discuss your situation, offer information and resources, or just listen to what’s going on so you have someone to talk to. Our contacts are always free and confidential, and we may be able to help you identify other people you can turn to for support.

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 family or friends better than anyone else, and it’s important to consider these factors when approaching someone for support. Who do you feel comfortable expressing yourself to? Who is someone you feel like you can lean on?

Consider people’s experiences with relationships and whose relationships 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 feel ready to talk yet, and that’s okay. If you want to open up to someone who you haven’t spent time with lately, try finding moments to bond more recently before bringing up your situation.

Spending time together may help you feel more comfortable when you are ready to share and can allow 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 or discussing a high-profile example of abuse in the media to break down misconceptions. You can also share an 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. Know that 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.

Especially if physical abuse is present, people you open up to may feel concern over your safety and want to protect you in the ways they think are best, without knowing or understanding your full circumstances. Be especially careful with what you tell friends if you belong to shared social circles 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 harm you’ve experienced or are actively experiencing. They’re upset because they love you and don’t want you to be mistreated. Even if they express concern or support for your abusive partner because of their own personal relationships, they are ultimately concerned over 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 day or night. We can help you find ways to open a dialogue and build a lasting support system at home.