Episode 136: "How do I tell my friends I’m being abused, if they are friends with my abuser?"Support the show
On today’s episode, we’re answering a question from local teens about getting help from friends.
This is Jessica Skultety, Outreach and Prevention Manager at Safe+Sound Somerset. We are Somerset County, New Jersey's lead domestic and sexual violence response organization, providing services at no charge to survivors for over 40 years.
Today's question from local teens is: “Dear Ava, How do I tell my friends I’m being abused, if they are friends with my abuser?”
It can be really hard to trust your friends with important information sometimes. We don’t always know how people will react. If you are experiencing abuse from your partner, you might be worried about if friends will believe you, or blame you, even though it isn’t your fault.
If you are going to tell your friend or friends, think about the reason for it. Is it to find safety or support, or to protect them? Maybe there is some other reason altogether. Figuring out why you want to tell them can help you to decide if you should or maybe wait a little while. For example, maybe there is a time later where it might be easier for you to tell your friends, when you are healing.
Plus, it’s important to know that some abusive partners make your friends part of the abuse, whether you tell your friends or not. This could look like: making you feel guilty for hanging out with your friends, making your friends turn against you, spreading rumors and lies, or threatening any of you, for example.
Is there one friend who really cares about you and your well-being more than the others? Maybe that is the person to talk to. Ask them to promise not to mention anything to your abuser or to the other friends, as you ask them to listen to you and support you. But also know that it's not your friend’s responsibility to fix everything or stop the abuse. Friends can provide you with support or information if they are the right person, but that’s about it.
There are other places you can reach out to and get support or help, instead of friends. Is there a trusted adult in your life? This could be a parent or guardian, family member or friend, teacher, coach, etc. All of these people can assist you. If one person doesn’t believe or support you, go to another person. We realize this can be really hard to do, but know that you aren’t alone. If you’re looking for support from someone who doesn’t know you, but is an expert on relationship violence, call or text the Safe+Sound Somerset helpline. Our trained advocates can speak with you 24/7.
To speak with an expert about relationship or sexual violence, call or text the Safe+Sound Somerset 24/7 confidential helpline at 866-685-1122 for supportive listening, information, and safety planning.
Want to “Ask Ava” a question? Visit our website at www.safe-sound.org/ask-ava. Thank you for listening today. Join us next time here on Ask Ava.