Ask Ava

Ask Ava, Episode 87: "What should I do if my partner is only abusive once?"

November 25, 2021 Ask Ava Season 1 Episode 87
Ask Ava
Ask Ava, Episode 87: "What should I do if my partner is only abusive once?"
Show Notes Transcript

Episode 87: "What should I do if my partner is only abusive once?"

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On today’s episode, we’re answering a question from local teens about what to do if someone’s partner is abusive just one time.

This is Jessica Skultety, Community Outreach Associate 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, What should I do if my partner is only abusive once?”

If this is the case, here are some questions you can ask yourself.

  • When your partner was abusive, was it a physical action?
  • If yes, have there been other non-physical actions that cause you to feel like you can’t make decisions, set boundaries, or give consent?
  • Do you feel unsafe?

If there HAVE been other non-physical actions, this might be an abusive and potentially unsafe relationship for you.

Physical violence doesn’t usually just happen out of the blue or on its own. Plus, it doesn’t mean it can’t happen again in the future. Some other non-physical warning signs of an abusive relationship could be:

  • Making you feel guilty about hanging out with friends or family, or saying those people are “against the relationship”
  • Making everything about jealousy and saying they have to because they have trust issues
  • Asking you to dress a certain way to avoid attention from other potential admirers
  • Saying “you’re too sensitive” or “I was just joking” even when something clearly made you upset
  • Constantly forcing you to check in or tell them where you are or who you’re with
  • Blackmailing you to stay in a relationship or to do something you’re not comfortable with. For example, this could sound like, “If you leave me, I’ll share those embarrassing photos of you with everyone.”
  • Using physical or sexual abuse as a threat

Here are some other things to consider. After this one action, how do you feel around your partner now? Are you feeling like you have to tip toe around them and their temper, and try not to make them angry, in fear of what they might do next time? If so, again, this relationship doesn’t sound safe for you. 

You might feel a combination of feelings like shame, anger, sadness, or guilt after your partner used this physical action against you. Know that this action is NOT your fault. Remember, if you don’t feel safe around your partner, that’s valid and you are not alone. You do not have to stay in a relationship you don’t want to be in.

Research shows that abusive actions tend to get worse over time. They often, but not always, happen again, with more intensity and more often. At this point, you might decide to stay in or leave the relationship. Either way, you can safety plan with our advocates on our hotline or by using our website. A safety plan is a personalized plan that includes information and strategies to remain safe, whether you decide to stay or leave.

Also, this is a good time to confide in or talk to a trusted adult about the situation. This could be a parent or guardian, family member, teacher, or coach - anyone who listens to you. If you can’t find an adult to listen, try to find another. But always remember that you can call or text our hotline if you want someone who doesn’t know you to listen and offer advice.

To speak with an expert about dating violence, call or text the Safe+Sound Somerset 24/7 confidential hotline at 866-685-1122 for supportive listening, information, and safety planning. 

Want to “Ask Ava” a question? Visit our website at Thank you for listening today. Join us next time here on Ask Ava.