Episode 27: "Why Don't Teens in Abusive Relationships Just Leave?"Support the show
Today, we’re exploring the many reasons why teens and young adults might not leave abusive relationships. This is Jessica Skultety, Community Outreach Associate at Safe+Sound Somerset, Somerset County New Jersey's lead domestic violence organization, providing services at no charge for survivors of dating and domestic abuse for over 40 years.
Today's question from local teens is: “Why don’t teens in abusive relationships just leave?”
This is a common question we hear often in our community. People who have never experienced abusive relationships might think this is the simple solution. The first thing to remember is that every person and every relationship is different. As a friend or family member, we can never really 100% know what someone is going through in a relationship.
The reasons a teen might not leave are similar to reasons adult targets might not leave. For example: they love this person, they remember how good the relationship used to be, they had envisioned a future with this person, they are embarrassed or ashamed, they’ve been isolated from family and friends, they think they can change the abuser and make them better, they believe the abuser’s reasoning, they don’t want to be alone, they think that this is how they deserve to be treated, no one believes them, they are afraid, they are being blackmailed, and even more.
Many teens would rather tell a friend than a parent or guardian that they are experiencing an abusive relationship or that they are scared of their partner. This can make it very difficult for them to open up and get the help they need, especially if the situation gets worse (which we can never know in advance).
Let’s change the conversation from “why don’t they just leave?” to “how can I support them?” - as a friend or family member you can help keep this person safe, respect their wishes, and be a support in a time when they may need you most. Don’t hesitate to get trusted adults or the authorities involved if someone is in danger.
Text or call the Safe+Sound Somerset hotline for supportive listening, safety planning, and information at 866-685-1122. Want to “Ask Ava” a question? Visit www.safe-sound.org/ask-ava. Thank you for listening today. Join us next time here on Ask Ava.