Friends series - "How do you break up with a toxic friend?"Support the show
Today, as part of a series on Friends, we're talking about how to leave a toxic friendship.
This is Jessica Skultety, Community Outreach Associate at Safe+Sound Somerset, Somerset County New Jersey's lead domestic violence organization, offering services at no charge for survivors of dating and domestic abuse for over 40 years.
Today’s question from local teens is: How can I break up with a toxic friend?
Just like romantic relationships, friendships can be abusive and difficult to leave. It might also be unsafe to leave the friendship – maybe the friend has blackmailed the other friend or threatened to share their secrets, photos, private information, or has put them in an uncomfortable situation. So, what can you do if you're in a toxic friendship?
· If you feel safe, talk to your friend, stand up for yourself, and voice your needs. If you need some time apart or need to not see them at all, and you feel safe to tell them, speak up. This can be hard to do, we understand, but it is worth it for your happiness and physical and mental wellbeing. You matter. If this friend doesn’t respect you when you voice your needs, seriously consider whether or not this friend is worth keeping or not.
· If you don't feel comfortable engaging in an activity your friend wants you to (for example, something illegal or bullying someone else), say something if you feel safe to do so. Remember, any friend who threatens blackmails, makes you feel unsafe or uncomfortable is not encouraging an equal friendship or a healthy friendship. If you’re afraid of your friend’s reaction, it’s really important to reach out to a trusted adult like a family member, teacher, coach, or you can text or call our hotline.
· Remember that abuse of all kinds tends to get worse, so ignoring the behavior might make it worse in the long run. It’s best to communicate or even leave the friendship as soon as you start to feel that something might be off. You may have to block that person on your phone and social media as well.
· We also recommend: document what is happening. That means: write down dates and behavior, and if it’s on a phone or device, take screen shots. This is especially helpful if a friend is blackmailing, threatening, or cyberbullying you.
· In an emergency, call 911, right away. To anonymously report crimes, you can actually use the STOPit app for Somerset County, NJ. Once you download the app, the passcode is SOMERSETNJ. You can also call or text the Safe+Sound Somerset hotline for supportive listening or safety planning if you’re nervous about being around your friend or you want to plan on the safest way to leave the friendship – our number is 866-685-1122.
· You matter, yes, you, and you deserve a healthy and safe friendship! You don’t have to stay in any friendship you don’t want to stay in.
Visit our website at www.safe-sound.org. Thank you for listening today. Join us next time here on Ask Ava.