stay for the kids

50 Obstacles to Leaving: 21-30

“Why don’t you just leave the relationship?”

According to Sarah Buel: “This question has been fueled by those who believe that remaining with a batterer indicates stupidity, masochism, or codependence. Far from being accurate, such labels prove dangerous to victims because they tend to absolve batterers of responsibility for their crimes.

There are many different reasons that a victim may stay in an abusive relationship. This week to shed some light on the frequently asked question of why a victim doesn’t just leave, we’re taking a closer look at 50 different obstacles that prevent someone from leaving. Follow along on our blog throughout the week to read about all of them.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, call us toll-free and confidentially at 1-800-799-SAFE(7233) to speak confidentially with an advocate.

21. Keeping the Family Together: Victims believe it is in their children’s best interest to have their father or a male role model in the family.

22. Illiterate Victims: Illiterate victims may be forced to rely on the literate batterer for everyday survival.

23. Incarcerated or Newly Released Abuse Victims: Such victims often don’t have support systems to assist them with re-entry to the community. Parole officers may require that they return home if that appears to be a stable environment.

24. Law Enforcement Officer: If the perpetrator is a law enforcement officer, the victim may fear that other officers will refuse to assist or believe them if they come forward.

25. Lesbian and Gay Victims: Victims may feel silenced if disclosing their sexual orientation (to qualify for a protective order) could result in losing their job, family, and home.

26. Low Self-Esteem: Victims may believe they deserve no better than the abuse they receive.

27. Love: Since many batterers are initially charming, victims fall in love and may have difficulty altering their feelings with the first sign of a problem.

28. Mediation: Mediation can put the victim in the dangerous position of incurring the batterer’s wrath for disclosing the extent of the violence.

29. Medical Problems: The victim must stay with the batterer to obtain medical services, especially if they share insurance.

30. Mentally Ill Victims: Victims face negative societal stereotypes in addition to the batterer’s taunts that the victim is crazy and nobody will believe anything that they say.

talking with children

50 Obstacles to Leaving: 11-20

Can you imagine the frustration of a victim being asked, “Why don’t you just leave?”

While leaving seems like a quick and easy fix to escape abuse, we know that leaving an abusive partner is a complicated, difficult challenge and often the most dangerous time in a relationship. Victims have many reasons for staying. This week we’re giving you 50, adapted from Sarah M. Buel’s “Fifty Obstacles to Leaving, a.k.a., Why Abuse Victims Stay.”

11. Family Pressure: Family members exert pressure if they believe there’s no excuse for leaving a marriage or if they’re in denial about the abuse.

12. Fear of Retaliation: The batterer has shown willingness to carry out threats and the victim fears harm to themselves or the children if they leave.

13. Fear of Losing Child Custody: The batterer has used the threat of obtaining custody to exact agreements to their liking.

14. Financial Abuse: Financial abuse can take many different forms depending on the couple’s socio-economic status — ex. If victims have been forced to sign false tax returns or take part in other unlawful financial transactions.

15. Financial Despair: The victim realizes that they cannot provide for themselves or their children without the batterer’s assistance.

16. Gratitude: The victim feels gratitude toward the batterer because the batterer has helped support and raise their children from a previous relationship, or take care of them if they have health, medical or other problems.

17. Guilt: Batterers have convinced victims that the violence is happening because it’s their fault.

18. Homelessness: Homeless abuse victims face increased danger, as they must find ways of meeting basic survival needs of shelter, food, and clothing while attempting to elude their batterers.

19. Hope for the Violence to Cease: This hope is typically fueled by the batterer’s promises of change, pleas from the children, or family’s advice to save the relationship.

20. Isolation: The victim has been cut off from family, friends and colleagues and lacks a support system or people to stay with.

reaching out for help

50 Obstacles to Leaving: 1-10

“It would take me yet another year of planning, forgiving, calling, reaching for help, before I could leave.” —Sarah Buel

Leaving is not easy. On average, it takes a victim seven times to leave before staying away for good. Exiting the relationship is most unsafe time for a victim. As the abuser senses that they’re losing power, they will often act in dangerous ways to regain control over their victim.

We know victim’s frustrations with feeling like the abuse is somehow their fault. If only they’d leave, right? Wrong. We know better. In fact, we’re taking a closer look at 50 reasons why it may be near impossible to leave. To answer the often-asked question “Why don’t you just leave?” we’ve adapted Sarah M. Buel’sFifty Obstacles to Leaving, a.k.a., Why Abuse Victims Stay” — 50 different reasons that she has encountered throughout her 22 years of work in the domestic violence field.

Follow along on the blog this week as we discuss 10 different obstacles each day.

1. Advocate: The victim doesn’t have an enthusiastic supporter on their side so may feel discouraged or hopeless.

2. Batterer: The batterer is wealthy, famous, powerful in the community, etc., and can afford to hire private counselor and pressure decision-makers.

3. Believes Threats: The victim believes the batterer’s threats to kill them and the children if they attempt to leave.

4. Children’s Best Interest: The victim believes it is in the children’s best interest to have both parents in the home, especially if the abuser doesn’t physically abuse the children.

5. Children’s Pressure: The children put pressure (independently or by the abuser’s influence) on the abused parent to stay with their partner.

6. Culture and Race: Because of differences in race or culture, the victim worries about being treated unequally by the justice system if they come forward, or believes stereotypes about acceptable actions in their own culture.

7. Denial: The victim is in denial about the danger, instead believing that if they could be better partners, the abuse would stop.

8. Disabled: Victims who are disabled or physically challenged face obstacles in gaining access to court and social services, and may be isolated from basic info about resources.

9. Elderly: Elderly victims may hold traditional beliefs about marriage and believe they must stay, or are dependent on the batterer for care even in the face of physical abuse.

10. Excuses: The victim believes the abuser’s excuses to justify the violence, blaming job stress or substance abuse for example.

help a coworker

How to Help a Coworker Who Is Experiencing Abuse

Approximately 74% of employed domestic violence victims are contacted or harassed by their abusers while they are at work. Based on this statistic alone, it is possible that during your professional career, you may encounter a coworker who is experiencing domestic violence.

If someone is experiencing abuse at home, the effects of the abuse are likely to carry over into the work environment as well. You may notice changes in their behavior at work that could indicate that something is wrong. For instance:

  • Excessive lateness or unexplained absences
  • Frequent use of ‘sick time’
  • Unexplained injuries or bruising
  • Changes in appearance
  • Lack of concentration/often preoccupied
  • Disruptive phone calls or personal visits from their partner
  • Drops in productivity
  • Sensitivity about home life or hints of trouble at home

Follow your instinct, and if you feel like you should talk to them about what might be going on, do so. The worst that could happen is that they don’t want to talk – and even then, they at least know that you care. There’s no harm in asking. Work may be the one place where they can talk to someone safely without the abusive partner finding out. Also, your coworker may believe that you are more objective to their situation than family and close friends.

Be sure to approach them in a confidential manner, at a time and place without interruptions. When approaching the topic of domestic violence with your coworker, remember to be nonjudgmental. They may be embarrassed by the situation, and you might be the first person they are telling. Consider starting with a simple comment and question like, “You seem a bit preoccupied/stressed. Do you want to talk about it?” Give them the space to share what they want to share with you. Don’t pressure them.

If your coworker does open up to you about the abuse, listen and refer. Your role is not to fix the problem for them – sometimes, listening can be the most helpful. You might want to pass along some information to them. If it feels appropriate, pass on the number of the Hotline. We can help your coworker safety plan around their current situation and can refer them to local service providers.

If your coworker gives you permission, you can help them document the instances of domestic violence in their life. Take pictures of injuries, write down exact transcripts of interactions, make notes on a calendar of the dates that things happen. Documenting the abuse might help the victim to obtain legal aid later on.

If your coworker has been open with you about their situation, you can help them learn about their rights. Women’s Law is an excellent resource for information on domestic violence laws and procedures. Browsing this website with your coworker or giving them the link can provide them with crucial information.

Introduce them to the security guard, or volunteer to meet the security guard with them if they’d like help. Keeping the security guard at the office in the loop can help deter your coworker’s abuser from stopping by, make sure your coworker is escorted safely to and from the office space, and more.

Ask if they’d like to create a safety plan for their work environment. Ask what they would like you to do if their partner should call or stop by the office. If you’re having trouble coming up with a safety plan on your own, call The Hotline for assistance.

Above all remember that just supporting your coworker no matter what can make a difference. Respect their decisions – you may not know all of the factors involved. Your coworker may not do what you want or expect them to do. Instead of focusing on being the one to solve the problem for them, focus on being supportive and trustworthy in their time of need.

volunteer spotlight

Meet A Volunteer: Amalie

Here at The Hotline, much of the work we do is made possible by the dedication and effort of our volunteers. We met up with Hotline volunteer Amalie, one of our many advocates on the receiving end of the calls, to talk with her about her experience working here.


How did you become interested in advocating for victims and survivors of domestic violence?

I’ve volunteered for the past 5-6 years. I worked for a citizen review board that monitored children that had been in foster care or in homes with domestic violence — so I had seen a lot of domestic violence before in families. I knew that this was an area I wanted to pursue further.

How did you feel when you answered your first call?

I was really nervous – nervous that I wasn’t going to be able to provide the right tone, and that I was going to seem like I was nervous talking to them. I was worried that I wasn’t going to have the knowledge to give them all of the resources that they needed.

My first call turned out fine. Once you just start talking to a caller, you realize that you can find common ground, and that you’re not in completely different places. It wasn’t as overwhelming as I thought it would be.

What aspects of your job satisfy you the most?

So many! After every phone call, I know that even if the caller doesn’t use the resources I’ve given them, at least they’ve made the phone call, which is a positive first step. Hopefully after the call they know that there’s hope for change.

I like taking the time to speak with the callers — for callers to receive any kind of validation can be huge. I am not there to fix the callers problems or tell them what’s the right path. I can only try my hardest to provide the callers with safe resources and avenues to do this, so they can gain back the quality of life and respect they deserve. If I can help the caller with this in any small way, I have been rewarded in an invaluable way.

You receive calls from family and friends who might be concerned about a loved one. What would you say to someone who’s frustrated and wondering, “Why won’t they just leave?”

It’s just not that easy. The person in the relationship can be scared. They can feel very confused. They can feel at fault. There was a reason initially that they got into that relationship or fell in love with that person.

I try to explain that they should consider giving their loved one support and space to process their feelings. The victim is already being controlled and overwhelmed by their abuser. Telling them what they should do or trying to do it for them only pushes the victim deeper into their isolation. By giving them non-judgmental support and an environment that feels safe they can be empowered to make the necessary changes through their own actions and self-discovery.

Do you receive any calls from abusers?

Yes. Regardless if the caller is an abuser, I still keep an unbiased tone. The fact that they’re calling is a positive step. Most callers that identify as abusers are seeking help. Whether that’s court appointed or they’ve seen behaviors in themselves that they want to change, I try to be supportive of that and try to find them resources in their area.

What are some common myths about domestic violence that you see regularly?

One myth is that it’s easy to leave and the women who stay are just weak. It’s so much more complicated then that. It’s a web. A victim needs to be slowly able to crawl out of it, and catch their footing. There are just so many different dynamics.

The one that really gets to me is this: the victim must have done something to initially start the abuse. WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?! No one should EVER justify any form of abuse in relationships. It is never okay and never the victims fault. The abuser is making a distinct choice to react to their emotions in a certain way. They could have just as easily taken a long run or left the relationship.

What message do you have for someone who is recently out of an abusive relationship?

I get phone calls from people who have been out of their abusive relationship for 15 years and they’re just calling now to seek counseling. The fact that they’re reaching out now for support is huge.

There’s a lot of trauma after leaving an abusive relationship. Whether you’re a family or friend of someone who has gone through an abusive relationship, or the survivor yourself, there are support groups out there. You do not have to endure the journey alone. It’ll take time — it’s a process.

The healing process is unpredicatable, so don’t be disheartened if some days are harder than others. Be okay with the fact that it’s not going to be easy. And allow yourself that space to acknowledge and be be aware of what you need. And it’ll be hard. If you feel sad, and feel defeated on some levels – be okay with that, and you can move on from there. By leaving your abuser you have won the biggest battle. … One foot in front of the other.

Final thoughts about your experience at The Hotline?

Volunteering here has been a really beautiful thing for me. Every time I come in here, I’m learning something myself based on how I react to different calls and the feelings I’m left with after the phone calls. These callers re-ground me constantly and I am constantly blown away the incredible strength within these women and men. I am grateful for what they’ve taught me.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Meet an Advocate: Devynn

Ever wondered who is on the other end of calls to The Hotline? Meet Devynn, an advocate who has been with The Hotline since 2003. Devynn has a background in social work, anthropology and women’s studies. During our conversation, it became very clear just how passionate she is about what she does.

Q. How did you become interested in advocating for domestic violence? What brought you here?

A. It was kind of a natural progression. I was in social work for a number of years and then began teaching. But even then I was always volunteering. I volunteered in Houston when I lived there. I was actually a founding volunteer of the Houston Area Women’s Center. And then I moved to Ireland for several months to work on my dissertation for my PhD in Women’s Studies and sex trafficking. I couldn’t stay and finish, though. When I came back I started working here.

Q. What aspects of your job satisfy you the most?

A. As trite as it might sound, giving someone support when they don’t think there is any. When they get off of the phone they say, “You really listened to me. Thank you.” That’s really nice. To have someone say, “Thank you for listening. I had no one,” shows me that there’s a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel.

Q. Why do you continue to advocate for domestic violence?

A. It’s important. I had an acquaintance of mine who said, “You know, you’re not going to change this. There’s always going to be domestic violence. There’s always going to be sex trafficking.” And I said, “Yeah, I can’t save the world, but at least I can make it a little bit better.” So that’s the way I look at it sometimes.

Q. What are some common myths about domestic violence that you see regularly?

A. “What did she do to push his buttons? She must have done something. You don’t just hit people or scream and yell at them. So, what did she do?” That one and the other one is, “Why doesn’t she just leave?” Those are probably the most common.

Q. How do you react when someone says something like that to you?

A. I just say, it’s never that simple. And, there is no excuse for domestic violence. None.

Q. What message do you have for someone who is recently out of an abusive relationship?

A. Reach out for support… because a lot of time they’ve been so isolated. Their abuser has pushed all of their friends away. Their family won’t talk to them. I usually talk about trying to reestablish connections and trying to get involved in whatever they think they can do. And take care of themselves. A lot of times they’re so disconnected that they don’t know where to start. I’ll just tell them to start with a support group at their local program so they can talk to people.

Q. What advice do you give to a teenager who is in their first relationship?

A. I talk to them about peer pressure and about how sometimes people are in a relationship just because it’s cool or because their friends think that he’s a cool guy. They think that if they leave this relationship they’ll never have anyone else. I take that seriously. I talk to them about the kind of relationship that they have with their parents, or if they have another adult that they feel comfortable talking to. I try to tell them that domestic violence doesn’t just happen to older people – it can happen to anyone. I try to give them websites to look at and always let them know about The National Dating Abuse Helpline.

Q. What are some reasons that people give for their hesitance to call The Hotline?

A. Some people think that regardless of what we say that we’re not really anonymous — that we’re going to turn them into CPS or that we’re going to send out the police or that somehow their abuser is going to know that they called. I try to assure them that we are an anonymous, confidential hotline. Now, if they give us information about child abuse and give us details we are required by law to report it, but we explain that. They think that we’re going to call immigration. Or sometimes they want to make sure they don’t get someone in trouble. I just tell them that they aren’t getting their partner in trouble –  their partner is doing that all on their own. I tell them that it’s common for an abuser to blame their victim for their actions. Also, a lot of times people call and say, “Well this isn’t domestic violence because he’s just yelling at me.” They don’t understand that domestic violence has all of these different dimensions to it. Or that no one else believes them, so why would we. People will say, “You’re going to think I’m crazy if I tell you this.” I say, “Go right ahead. That’s what abusers often tell their partners. I’m not here to judge, I’m just here to listen.”

 

Advocates like Devynn are on the frontlines of our organization. They are the people that you speak with when you call, they listen to you when you need support and they connect you with resources when you’re in need.

If you or a loved one is experiencing domestic violence and wish to speak with an advocate, please give us a call at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

a day in the life of an advocate

A Day in the Life

It was summer in Austin, Texas and the temperature was hovering close to three-digits. Mary, an advocate at The Hotline who has been with the organization for five years, was sitting in her cubicle. The air conditioner was blowing but she could still feel the heat blaring in from the full-length windows to her left.

She had been at work for the past seven hours and was counting down the minutes until the end of her shift. By then, she’d answered close to 30 calls from people seeking support, information and aid. She was tired and emotionally drained.

She looked at the print of a landscape that she has pinned to her gray cubicle wall and put her head in her hand. She imagined that the white noise (created by a discretely hidden machine across the room) was the sound of the river pictured in her landscape.

Her phone rang and she was pulled back into reality. She took a deep breath. She answered.

The caller was an adult woman in her mid-thirties. She lived somewhere on the upper east coast in a home that she bought and paid for herself. She had a good job and was proud of her life. She described herself as being strong in her faith.

The caller explained that she had been dating her boyfriend for several months. “Well, kind of dating,” she said.

Mary asked what she meant by “kind of.”

The caller told Mary that she would describe their relationship as dating, but that her partner often minimized the relationship. He told her that she wasn’t his girlfriend and that they weren’t together. The caller told Mary that even though her partner said these things, he asked her to spend the night on a regular basis, got jealous when she talked to other men and called her all the time. She was confused.

Mary asked the caller why she thought that her partner was saying these things to her when he was clearly acting in a way that contradicted them.

The caller explained that she refused to sleep with her partner and that had angered him. She said that she felt uncomfortable, like she was violating her faith, engaging in sexual relations with a man that she was not committed to. She didn’t know if she should sleep with him because they are dating – if doing so would change his attitude – or if she should continue to abstain.

Mary told her that her feelings were completely justified and that she shouldn’t do anything that she was uncomfortable with. She explained that what the caller was describing sounded a lot like controlling behavior. She told the caller that her partner might be minimizing the relationship in order to convince her to sleep with him. She then took time to explain the dynamics of relationships – abusive relationships in particular –  and talk with the caller about other things that were happening in the relationship.

After spending 15 minutes on the phone with Mary, the caller sounded more confident and comfortable in her relationship. She told Mary that she understood that her partner was attempting to manipulate her by making their relationship seem less than it was. She understood that that manipulation was a sign that her relationship was unhealthy.

She thanked Mary for speaking with her and then ended the call.

Most calls that Mary takes aren’t straightforward or easy. She deals with pain and anger and sadness on a daily basis. She fights shrinking domestic violence program budgets and long waitlists at shelters every day as she tries to find aid for callers. After all of the adversity that she faces, hearing a caller tell Mary that “she is awesome” is something that she will hold on to.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

The Impact of Domestic Violence on Children

In a Washington Post article from early February, the authors (two state attorneys) describe children who are exposed to incidents of domestic violence as the “invisible victims.” They write:

As prosecutors, we have long noted with distress how often children are present when violent crimes are committed. Kids don’t need to be the target of the violence to be scarred by it. Ask any adult who witnessed domestic violence while growing up; decades later, he or she will still be able to talk vividly of the event and how it affects them today.”

Domestic abuse affects everyone — family, friends, and even the community. As highlighted in the Post article, children often are affected if they are living in a space where this is taking place. They become the ‘secondary’ victims of the abuse, whether it’s emotional, physical or sexual, and whether it takes place constantly or in isolated incidents.

Here are some interesting facts about children and domestic violence:

  • Over half of female domestic violence victims live in households withchildren under the age of 12.
  • Research indicates that up to 90 percent of children living in homes where there is domestic violence know what is going on.
  • In a study of more than 6,000 families in the United States, it was reported that half of the men who physically abused their wives also abused their children. Also, older children are frequently assaulted when they interfere to defend or protect the victim.
  • A child’s exposure to domestic violence is the strongest risk factor for transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next.
  • Childhood abuse and trauma has a high correlation to both emotional and physical problems in adulthood, including tobacco use, substance abuse, obesity, cancer, heart disease, depression and a higher risk for unintended pregnancy.

How Can I Help

One resource for learning how to assist children in these situations is Lundy Bancroft’s “Helping Your Children Heal the Wounds of Witnessing Abuse,” in which he shares ways parents can encourage their children to cope, heal and talk about the abuse they’ve seen.

If your child is witnessing abuse in your home, what you’re experiencing is likely made even worse by the worry and concern you feel for your child. It’s important to remember that both you and your children’s needs are important.

Have conversations. Let children know that it’s okay to talk about what has happened. Stress that abuse is wrong, but avoid criticizing the abuser if they are a parent or parent-figure to the child.

Remind your kids that the abuse is never their fault. Make sure that they know that you care about them. Children are extremely resilient, and while the impact of abuse can be long lasting, knowing that they have someone to depend on that loves them will help them heal.

Above all, proceed with caution and listen to your instincts. Tap into what you feel is best for both you and your child. There are often pros and cons of either staying with or leaving an abusive partner. It can be a dangerous situation either way. If you do decide to leave your relationship, consider when and how to best leave. Allow children to be open about their feelings in the process, and devise a safety plan (whether staying or leaving).

Call The Hotline toll free, 24/7 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for more information about what you can do.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Dating Abuse Resources for Teens

As any parent knows, it can be difficult to communicate with your teen, especially when it comes to a sensitive topic like dating violence. Perhaps you’re not quite sure what to say, or maybe your teen doesn’t seem to want to talk.

Whatever stage you and your teen are going through in discussing and learning about dating violence — whether you want to teach them about healthy relationships for the future, or you’re concerned with a relationship they are currently in and want to give them advice — there are plenty of resources that can be really helpful.

From phone numbers and victim services centers, to online pamphlets and sites, we’ve put together a list of some of the best resources for teens. Share them with your teen and look at them together, or simply pass them on.


Who to Call

  • National Dating Abuse Helpline: 1-866-331-9474 or text “loveis” to 77054. Call or text with peer advocates, or contact them using this confidential online form or Live Chat

What to Read

Online Interactive

Spread the Knowledge

Other Organizations

  • loveisrespect: Advice and info on healthy dating, to empower youth and young adults to prevent and end abusive relationships. loveisrespect is connected with The National Dating Abuse Helpline, which can be reached 24/7 via call or text (See: Who to Call)
  • Boys Town: Boys Town works to reunite children with their families when possible, or give them the skills and foundation needed to build a life on their own. They strive to help every child, “from those who may simply be struggling or in doubt to those who are in need of the most severe behavioral care”
  • National Runaway Safeline: If you’re thinking about leaving home, or you have and are seeking information and help, the Safeline is one of the top resources for runaway, homeless, and at-risk youth and their families
  • Trevor Project: The national crisis lifeline for LGBTQ teens and adults. They have suicide prevention services for youth in digital spaces, counseling via IM, and a large online social network for LGBTQ people
  • 1 is 2 many: Launched by Vice President Joe Biden, this initiative uses technology and outreach to spread knowledge about dating violence and sexual assault among teens and young adults
  • TeenWire: In addition to information about healthy and unhealthy relationships, TeenWire has resources about everything from body image to sexual health
  • ShowMeLoveDC: A campaign to raise awareness about healthy relationships and provide resources for LGBTQ survivors of intimate partner violence
  • Northwest Network: A network founded by and for LGBTQ survivors, focused on safety, support, and empowerment
  • The Anti-Violence Project: AVP offers free and confidential assistance to thousands of LGBTQ people each year in all five boroughs of New York City
  • A Thin Line: An MTV campaign created to empower teens to identify, respond to, and stop the spread of digital abuse
National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Is Your Teenage Child Being Abused? Here’s How to Help

It can be scary to suspect that your teen might be in an abusive relationship. As a parent, your instinct is to help your child in whatever way you can. This need to help can drive you to quickly react, but sometimes what feels like the right plan of action could stop the conversation before it begins. Here are some tips to keep in mind when trying to help a child who is experiencing abuse.

Listen and Give Support
When talking to your teen, be supportive and non-accusatory. If they do open up, it’s important to be a good listener. Your child may feel ashamed of what’s happening in their relationship. Many teens fear that their parents may overreact, blame them or be disappointed. Others worry that parents won’t believe them or understand. If they do come to you to talk, let it be on their terms, and meet them with understanding, not judgment.

Accept What Your Child is Telling You
Believe that they are being truthful. Showing skepticism could make your teen hesitant to tell you when things are wrong and drive them closer to their abuser. Offer your unconditional support and make sure that they know that you believe that they are giving an accurate account of what is happening.

Show Concern
Let your teen know that you are concerned for their safety by saying things like: “You don’t deserve to be treated like this;” “You deserve to be in a relationship where you are treated with respect” and “This is not your fault.”

Talk About the Behaviors, Not the Person
When talking about the abuse, speak about the behaviors you don’t like, not the person. For example, instead of saying, “She is controlling” you could say, “I don’t like that she texts you to see where you are.” Remember that there still may be love in the relationship — respect your child’s feelings. Also, talking badly about your son or daughter’s partner could discourage your teen from asking for your help in the future.

Avoid Ultimatums
Resist the urge to give an ultimatum (for example, “If you don’t break up with them right away, you’re grounded/you won’t be allowed to date anyone in the future.”) You want your child to truly be ready to walk away from the relationship. If you force the decision, they may be tempted to return to their abusive partner because of unresolved feelings. Also, leaving is the most dangerous time for victims. Trust that the teen knows their situation better than you do and will leave when they’re ready.

Be Prepared
Educate yourself on dating abuse. Help your child identify the unhealthy behaviors and patterns in their relationship. Discuss what makes a relationship healthy. With your teen, identify relationships around you (within your family, friend group or community) that are healthy and discuss what makes those relationships good for both partners.

Decide on Next Steps Together
When you’re talking to your teen about a plan of action, know that the decision has to come from them. Ask what ‘next steps’ they would like to take. If they’re uncomfortable discussing this with you, help them find additional support. Suggest The National Dating Abuse Helpline, which offers a phone line, online chat and text messaging service where teens can talk with peer advocates 24/7. To call, dial 1-866-331-9474, to chat, visit loveisrespect.org or text “loveis” to 22522.

You can also call us at The Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). We can help you create a safety plan on their behalf, locate domestic violence services, and provide you with more information on the best way to help your teen.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

How To Recognize If Your Child Is In An Abusive Relationship

As a parent, your first and foremost concern is the safety of your children. You want to protect them and ensure that they are safe. You watch out for injuries, failure and heartbreak. But what if you suspect that they are being harmed by someone they love? How can you tell if your child is in an unhealthy or abusive relationship?

Relationships exist on a spectrum, so sometimes it can be difficult to tell what behavior is just unhealthy from behavior that is abusive. Each relationship is different and the people in it define what is acceptable for them, so what’s never OK for you might be alright for someone else.

If you’re concerned that your child is being abused by their boyfriend or girlfriend, you may notice that their boyfriend or girlfriend does some of the following things:

  • Checks their phone, email or social networking sites often and without permission
  • Calls them names or demeans them
  • Isolates them from family and friends
  • Checks up on them with constant calls and texts
  • Is extremely jealous when they spend time with other people
  • Does not allow them to work or have access to funds
  • Withholds affection as punishment or manipulation
  • Has violent outbursts that are mostly directed at your child
  • Threatens to hurt your child, their children, you or your extended family in any way
  • Has physically harmed them

If you notice any of these characteristics are present in your child’s partner or relationship, you should make an attempt to speak to them about what might be happening. Be supportive of them and their decisions, but explain to them that you’ve noticed some questionable behaviors and are concerned for their safety. Knowing that they are supported can mean the world to them.

If someone you care about is being abused, we can help you decide your best course of action. Give us a call at 1-800-799-SAFE any time to speak with an advocate.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Twit Chat: “Why Doesn’t She Leave?”

We were very excited to participate in a Twit Chat with Loop 21 about the reasons a man or woman might stay in an abusive relationship. The conversation had great participation. Read through the tweets below.

A special thanks to Loop 21 for shedding light on this topic and allowing us to participate:

What do you think? Do these reasons speak to what you, or victims in your life, experienced? Please let us know your thoughts below.

On Dec 12, 2012 we discussed barriers for leaving abusive relationships with The Loop 21: http://loop21.com

http://storify.com/NDVH/why-doesn-t-she-leave-with-the-loop-21