February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. By raising awareness, we can help protect teens and young women — along with their parents, families and friends — and promote safe, healthy relationships.
Do you suspect that a KD sister might be in danger of entering into a high-risk relationship or is experiencing abuse? Check out the tips below for how to identify an unhealthy relationship and what steps to take.
- Learn to look for the telltale signs of dating abuse. Things that may seem harmless like checking a partner’s phone or email without permission, exhibiting jealousy, isolating the partner from his/her friends or family and making negative comments or “put downs” are all warning signals that a relationship may not be safe or healthy. If you notice a sister’s partner engaging in this behavior, speak with her about your concern. For the full list of dating abuse warning signs, click here.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to a sister who you think might be in danger. Though it may be intimidating to meddle in someone else’s relationship, you will ultimately be doing your sister a service by protecting her. Tell her you’re concerned for her safety and want to help. Even if she assures you that there is not a problem now she may remember that you are available and willing to help in the future.
- Understand that your friend may not react how you expect. Victims of abuse often see the situation from a very different perspective than their friends and family. A sister who is in an unhealthy relationship may even blame herself and feel responsible. Even after realizing her relationship is toxic, she may still choose to stay in the relationship at that time.
- Be patient. Show support. Even if your friend is slow to end things in her relationship, don’t give up on her. As a friend, try to be there for her, even if she becomes upset with you for showing concern. Although she may not show it, she needs you now more than ever. Let her know that everyone deserves a healthy, non-violent relationship, and abuse is never “normal” or her fault.
- Take the correct steps to get help. Never contact the abuser, as it could put you or your friend at risk. With your friend’s permission, consider talking to a trusted CAB member or contacting your campus’s mental health facility. Reach out for professional help by texting LOVEIS (capitalization does not matter) to 22522 or by calling 1-866-331-9474. You can also encourage your sister to visit loveisrespect.org for more advice on how to safely exit her relationship.