Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
How to Support a Friend in an Unhealthy Relationship
By the Resilience Youth Leadership Board
When you are a teenager, everything is new and exciting, driving, going out, joining school clubs and sports teams. You start to slowly figure out life and get a taste of freedom, just at that time you start dating. High school alone is stressful enough, but when you add in the stress of dating and relationships, it can be hard to maneuver at a vulnerable age. Social media then brings in a whole new factor, one that only came into play with the most recent generation. Social media leaves teens even more vulnerable to the risks of dating violence and allows abusers to yield their power in a whole new way.
So, what should you do if a friend comes to you saying they want to leave an unhealthy relationship? It can be difficult to know how to support that person, but your support can be the difference in whether or not they leave the relationship. Here are some tips on how you can help a friend that is in a toxic relationship:
First, thank them for sharing their situation with you. It can be very difficult for a survivor to trust someone enough to step outside their relationship, discuss their situation and ask for help. Next, help the person find help and support. For teenagers, help might look like going to a parent, teacher, therapist, or even the school administration. If you are an adult, you can find resources like Resilience. Finding help for someone leaving an unhealthy relationship also can involve finding them support. If you don’t feel you are the right person for that, you can help them find a support group or advocate. Finally, make sure you are taking care of yourself. Secondary trauma is real, and it is important to be able to separate yourself from the situation by practicing self-care and finding ways to prioritize your own mental health.
Resilience: Advocates for Ending Violence has advocates available 24 hours a day to provide support for people who are experiencing dating abuse. By calling the Help Line, you will be connected with a trained professional that has the expertise and resources to help survivors move forward in whatever way they choose.
To speak to an advocate, call: