Newswise — The most dangerous time for any victim of domestic violence is when they decide to end the relationship and or leave,” said Dr. Lynn Atkinson Tovar, professor of Justice, Law and Public Safety Studies at Lewis University in Illinois. The former commander researches teen relationships and technology as well as abusive relationships.
If you suspect you are in an abusive relationship, you need to know it’s not your fault and you are not alone. Tovar urges people in unhealthy relationships to talk about the situation, even if it means telling a friend how the abuse has occurred. Most likely, the abuse is about control and the abuser feels he or she is losing control.
10 tips for helping a friend in an unhealthy relationship:
- Friends should not judge
- Be available
- Remind your friend that their safety is the most important thing
- Encourage them to talk to someone other than yourself if they seem to be uncomfortable talking to you
- Don’t minimize their fear
- Be supportive
- Tell them abusive behavior is never acceptable
- Don’t force them to end the relationship
- Empower them by providing them with options and resources
- Encourage a safety plan
Safety is the first priority.
If you feel you or your friend is in immediate danger, you must take immediate action. Call your local police department or domestic violence shelter. The immediate danger is when the victim has been threatened to be hurt and the abuser has the means to follow through on the threat.
Tovar provides more tips in her blog post “Recognizing an Abusive Relationship”. They are tips from her book "Smart Teen, Safe Teen: Respecting Relationships in Your Social Digital Life".
Visit https://www.lewisu.edu/crimjustice to learn more about studying Criminal Justice at Lewis University.