Being able to tell the difference between healthy, unhealthy and abusive relationships can be more difficult than you would think. No two relationships are the same, so what’s unhealthy in one relationship may be abusive in another. Although there are many signs to pay attention to in a relationship, look for these common warning signs of dating abuse:
- Checking cell phones, emails or social networks without permission
- Extreme jealousy or insecurity
- Constant belittling or put-downs
- Explosive temper
- Isolation from family and friends
- Making false accusations
- Constant mood swings towards you
- Physically inflicting pain or hurt in any way
- Telling someone what they can and cannot do
- Repeatedly pressuring someone to have sex
How to Help:
Remember-Stop, Drop & Roll!
Stop to assess for safety: Is the person physically and emotionally safe?
- Are they injured? Do they need medical attention? Are they worried about further violence or retaliation from the perpetrator or their friends?
- Are they thinking of hurting themselves or ending their life? Are they engaging in coping behaviors that put them at risk for further harm? Are they thinking of hurting someone else?
Drop Questions and Assumptions:
- Listen without judgment and with patience by limiting questions and leaving investigation and determining facts to those with that responsibility. Asking questions about what the person was wearing or whether or not they had been drinking can come across as victim-blaming. Let the person know that it was not their fault.
- Support the individual with compassion and empathy rather than by showing anger for the perpetrator(s). Sharing your own emotions makes it about you, rather than them, and they may feel that they now need to support you rather than vice versa. Get support for yourself to be able to process your feelings afterwards.
- Validate their feelings and reactions and acknowledge their strength. Say things like, “thank you for sharing with me,” “I’m so glad you told me,” and “it makes sense that you feel that way.” Try to mirror the survivors own language and avoid labeling their experience.
- Empower the individual to decide how much they want to share with you and what they want to talk about. Ask if they would like to know about resources that may be able to provide additional support.
Roll to Resources: