What if My Friend is Abusive?

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It can be difficult to talk to a friend or family member who is being abusive to their dating partner. Dating violence is often thought of as a “private” or “personal” issue. If you notice a friend being unkind, controlling, or abusive to a dating partner we encourage you to have a conversation with them. After all, if you say nothing, doesn’t that send the message that their behavior is acceptable?

Here are some tips and things you could say:

  • Tell them that abuse is never okay and affects everyone in their life
    Example: “It doesn’t matter if you’re upset, it makes everyone uncomfortable when you yell at your boyfriend. It’s not okay to do that.”
  • Help your friend take responsibility for his/her actions
    Example: “It’s not cool that you talk to your girlfriend like that, she doesn’t deserve to be treated that way.”
  • Remind them that it’s never okay to use jealousy, anger, or insecurity to control others
    Example: “Your girlfriend/boyfriend should be able to hang out with their friends, you don’t have a reason to be jealous.”
  • Explain that there is no excuse for being abusive- blaming the abuse on stress, childhood upbringing, or drugs/alcohol is not okay
  • Discuss traits of healthy relationships; for example, one partner should not make every decision
  • Explain that there are legal consequences and they could lose the people they care about
  • Make it personal
    Example: “How would you feel if your aunty or sister was being treated that way?”

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