Ask Ava

Ask Ava, Episode 64: "What if the Adults Don't Believe Me?"

June 17, 2021 Ask Ava Season 1 Episode 64
Ask Ava
Ask Ava, Episode 64: "What if the Adults Don't Believe Me?"
Show Notes Transcript

Episode 64: "What if the Adults Don't Believe Me?"

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Today, we’re answering a common question from local teens about what to do when adults don’t believe teens who are experiencing dating abuse. 

This is Jessica Skultety, Community Outreach Associate at Safe+Sound Somerset. We are Somerset County, New Jersey's lead domestic violence response organization, providing services at no charge for survivors of dating and domestic abuse for over 40 years.  

Today's question from local teens is: "What if the adults don’t believe me?"

Teens often ask us what to do when they’re experiencing abuse or feeling unsafe around a dating partner. Our first suggestion is to talk with a trusted adult in your life about what’s been happening and how you feel. They can listen and support you, help you plan in case you feel unsafe going forward, and help you report if there’s been a crime. 

But what happens if that trusted adult doesn’t believe you? Unfortunately, it is very common that people don’t believe reports of abuse. And this could be for many reasons.  

Dating abuse is extremely common. For example, 1 out of 3 teens experience dating violence before the end of high school. A lot of people think that abuse doesn’t start until people are college age, but that isn’t true.  

We also know that in our culture today, people think survivors are exaggerating or making things up to get attention. Sometimes people think the survivor might have done something to deserve abuse – which is victim-blaming (check out Ask Ava Episode 59 for more of an in-depth look at that). Some people might think your partner would never do something to hurt you or make you feel unsafe. Some adults might not take teen relationships seriously, so they assume that serious things like abuse would not happen. 

But, the relationships are real and serious to the people in them, and abuse still happens no matter how an adult defines the relationship. Also, some people don’t believe because they simply don’t want to; it’s easier NOT to believe.  

These are just a few reasons why people don’t believe reports of abuse – and by the way, they are not true – you do not deserve the abuse! And don’t let this stop you from confiding in an adult! If your first adult doesn’t take you seriously, talk to another trusted adult. This could be a parent, family member, older sibling, family friend, teacher, coach, or community leader. Keep going until you find someone who DOES listen and support you. 

And if you don’t feel comfortable talking with an adult, or you don’t know who to trust, call or text the Safe+Sound Somerset 24/7 hotline. We can provide safety planning, supportive listening, and information on our free services, including individual counseling for teen survivors. 

To speak with an expert about dating violence, call our confidential hotline, or text us, at 866-685-1122.

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