Healthy relationships require trust, respect, and consideration for the other person. When these qualities don’t exist in a relationship, it can quickly become unhealthy, controlling, and abusive. Abuse can happen in any kind of relationship – family, friendship, dating, etc. A person can be abused or be an abuser regardless of their gender identity. Some red flags and examples of abuse include:

  • Physical

    Slapping, pushing, grabbing, punching, kicking; this can also include neglect (not providing food, electricity, and water or locking you in a room).

  • Sexual

    Unwanted and inappropriate touch from anyone; sexual advances that make you uncomfortable. Saying things like, “well, if you loved me…” is someone trying to control you, with no respect for what you want or how you feel.

  • Emotional

    Putting you down all the time, making you feel unworthy, twisting the truth or blaming you to make it like it’s all your fault; threats to harm you or harm themselves; giving you “the silent treatment.”

So, what can you do if someone is abusing you? Here are some tips:

  • Talk to someone you trust – a school counselor or teacher, mentor, or parent. If you do not feel safe at home, ask the school counselors about Safe Place so you can get help NOW.

  • Remember it’s NOT your fault – you haven’t done anything to give someone the “right” to abuse you, and you do not deserve it. The person who is doing the abuse has a serious problem and needs professional help. You can’t fix them or get them to change. 

  • Trust your gut if something doesn’t feel right, it isn’t. End the relationship before you are hurt.

  • If you have been seriously hurt – seek medical attention or call the police. Also, ask your doctor or school counselor for a referral to an abuse/domestic violence program or group for teens in your area or a therapist who can help you work through what has happened and help prevent your being in that kind of situation/relationship in the future.

Finally, what if you have a friend who you think is being abused? Don’t ignore the signs – bruises or marks, keeping things a secret, avoiding situations and people they once enjoyed, and/or not wanting to talk. They may not see it like you do, and they may get angry if you say something, but say it anyway. Offer help and support. If they won’t talk with you, ask an adult to get involved. Do not ignore the signs and hope it will just go away; it won’t.

To learn more, check out these websites:

Phone Numbers:

  • National Child Abuse Hotline 1.800.422.4453

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline 1.800.799.7233

Books for Children

  • I Said No! by Zack and Kimberly King

  • It’s MY Body by Lory Freeman

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