Health Problems

Dating Violence: Stopping Abuse

How to stop being abusive in a relationship

It can be very hard to recognize or admit that you’re having trouble behaving well in a relationship.

Some things you might feel if you’re having problems include:

  • Anger
  • Jealousy
  • Feeling out of control
  • Wanting to hurt your partner
  • Something your partner does makes you feel violent
  • You feel like you need to control your partner

If you’re experiencing these feelings or acting abusive towards your partner, it’s a sign that you’re having a problem, and you need help.

I’m behaving in an abusive or unhealthy way in a relationship – what should I do?

First of all, it’s excellent that you recognize that you are having trouble behaving well in a relationship. This can cause problems in your relationship, or even cause your partner to end the relationship. If your partner chooses to leave the relationship, it’s important to respect their decision. It’s also very important that you seek help so that these behaviors won’t become a lifelong pattern. You need to talk with someone who can understand you and help you gain control over your emotions and your behavior. Speak with a trusted adult such as your health care provider, a school guidance counselor, or a therapist. Check out the resources below for more information.

How to leave a relationship if your partner is abusive

How do I get out of an unhealthy or abusive relationship?

Some people need help getting out of an unhealthy relationship. They might be afraid of hurting the other person’s feelings or making them angry. Talk to a parent, friend, counselor, health care provider, teacher, coach or other trusted person about your relationship. They can help you contact other people (your parents, school security, or even the police) if necessary.

Sometimes leaving an abusive relationship can be dangerous, because your partner may try to stop you from leaving. It will be a lot easier and safer if you make and stick to a safety plan.

Here are some tips on making your safety plan:

  • Tell a trusted adult.
  • Tell the person who is abusing you that you don’t want to see them. Do this over the phone so they can’t touch you, or with your parents/guardians at home so you know you’ll be safe in your house.
  • Keep track of any violence. This will be important if you need the court to issue a restraining order against the person. It will also be a useful reminder to you of why you are leaving the relationship.
  • Avoid any contact with the person.
  • Call 911 right away if you’re ever afraid that the person is following you or is going to hurt you.
  • Keep domestic violence hotline numbers (see the resources below) in your wallet or store them in your cell phone.

If you’re concerned for your safety and worried that your boyfriend/girlfriend may hurt you, there are many ways to get help.
You can:

  • Call 911
  • Talk to a parent/guardian, health care provider, teacher, guidance counselor, or other trusted adult
  • Call a dating violence hotline

How to Help a Friend in an Abusive Relationship

What do I do if a friend tells me that he or she is in an abusive relationship?

  • Listen very carefully to what your friend has to say.
  • Do not blame or judge your friend. People who are abused have a tendency to blame themselves already.
  • Tell your friend you believe what they are saying, and that you know it’s not their fault.
  • Remind your friend about all the friends and family who care and want them to be safe.
  • Tell your friend to tell a parent or other trusted adult right away – offer to help.
  • Give your friend information on how to make a safety plan and give them phone numbers of counselors and domestic violence hotlines (see the resources below).
  • Be sure not to take this on alone. Talk with a trusted adult about how to help your friend.

Even if your friend doesn’t listen to your advice, don’t tell him or her to choose between the abusive partner and you. This will make your friend feel that they can’t talk to you. Remember that leaving an abusive relationship is hard and may take several tries.

What else do I need to know?

  • At least 1 in 10 teens experience physical violence in their relationships
  • Even if abuse (physical, sexual, or emotional) does not affect you, it could be affecting one of your friends
  • If you or your friend is in an unhealthy relationship, get help right away before someone gets hurt

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