As peers you can identify with the pressures your friends might be feeling better than many adults. It is important that you understand the red flags of abusive relationships which you can fine here, and the barriers your friend might be facing in their abusive relationship. There are many barriers for teens experiencing abuse, some of which have to do with the reaction from their peers. It is important for you to educate yourself on the myths and facts of abuse, and below are some tips in how to offer support for a friend.
- Believe, offer support and options. Instead of telling your friend what they “should do” offer options of what they “could do.” For example instead of telling them they should break up with their partner, tell an adult and seek legal action, you can offer support and give them options by saying “I believe you and I want to help you, you don’t have to stay in this relationship and we could talk about your options when you are ready.” Remember you don’t have to have all of the answers for your friend, you just need to know how to point them towards help. You could offer to sit down and look up information with them online. Be sure you use a computer the abuser does not use or could be tracking on. For more information on internet safety check out our digital literacy page.
- Be non-judgmental – Ask them what would be positive questions to ask the victim or perp. What questions are not helpful? For the victim it is important ask what they are wanting to do. Ask them who they want to talk to. Try to stay away from threats “If you don’t tell someone then I will tell them.” It might be more helpful to say I really want to help you, is there anyone I could go with you to talk to? Offer suggestions but try not to force yourself.
- Do not try and confront the abuser yourself.
- Offer to help make a safety plan with them.
For more information on Safety Plans visit our Safety Planning Page