We’ve yet to end domestic violence among young people in the U.S., and with nearly 1.5 million youth affected by some form of domestic violence each year, it’s important that you know how to handle it. Although we hope that you’ll never have to experience something so traumatic, it’s important to know how to properly handle domestic violence in a relationship.
Step 1: Ask the right questions
Unfortunately, so many youth are unaware that they have been a victim of domestic violence. However, there are a few questions that you can ask yourself to determine if you’re safe in your relationship.
1. Is your partner possessive or jealous?
2. Does your partner yell and swear at you when they are upset?
3. Does your partner hit you when angry?
4. Does your partner call you names or humiliate you?
5. Does your partner force you to have sex?
Although there are many signs of domestic violence, these five questions are a great place to begin when determining if you are a victim of domestic violence.
Step 2: Get Help
After identifying that you are in fact experiencing dating violence, please seek help. Fortunately, there are shelters and hotlines that will offer you support, and their number one goal is to keep you safe. You can also tell an adult that you trust, such as your teacher, administrator, parent or school counselor.
If you would like to reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline for support and information on what you can do to protect yourself, please call 1-800-799-7233.
Step 3: Protect Yourself
Remember that domestic violence doesn’t always end when you tell someone, and that it’s important that you seek protection by court order. This is not the easiest step, but doing this will get you one step closer to
the protection you deserve.
Step 4: Take Notes
It may be hard for you to remember all of your experiences with domestic violence, so it’s critical that you write them down because threats, assaults, and rape are punishable by law, and this will help prosecutors build a case on your behalf if you decide to prosecute.
Step 5: Reporting
Assault, rape, and threats are punishable by law and needs to be reported to law enforcement to ensure your safety. The longer you wait, the more vulnerable you’ll become. For some, this can be a very nerve-wrecking experience and may cause some discomfort. Those feelings are perfectly normal, but feel free to contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline for questions on best methods of reporting.
Please know that unlocking these tools won’t always be easy for you, but it’s the right thing for you to do. You deserve to be respected, and respect is not being verbally, mentally, or physically abused by anyone.
Put your safety first, and remove yourself from harm’s way.