Advice for getting help and support if you are in an abusive relationship, or know someone in an abusive relationship
In my last article, I talked about the different kinds of abuse a person can experience, and some of the signs and symptoms of an abusive relationship. Now that we’ve covered the many kinds of abuse you may receive, if you feel like you are being abused or know someone who is in an abusive relationship, here’s what you can do.
Step 1 – Speak Up
As hard as this may seem, talking about what is happening to friends, family members or anyone you trust and feel comfortable enough to talk to will help. Doing this can not only take a weight off your shoulders, but makes the person you have told aware of the situation, and aware of what might happen if the abuse gets worse.
If you do not feel comfortable talking to anyone you know, there are lots of places you can go to talk to a professional, and get free confidential advice… Which leads us to Step 2.
Step 2 – Get Professional Advice
There are a variety of different helplines that you can contact, to seek help for many different types of abuse, where friendly staff will listen and advise you on your situation. Most of these resources are free and confidential. Below are a list of organisations and charities that can offer you support and guidance for whatever type of abuse you might be going through;
Childline: Childlike provides free confidential advice and support for all young people up to 19 years old. Whatever your worry, Childline counsellors are here to help. Speak to them by phone, online or email 24 hours a day.
Rape Crisis: If you are a girl who has experienced rape, sexual abuse or sexual assault you can get help, information and support from trained female support workers via their helpline.
National Domestic Violence Helpline: If you are a girl who is experiencing violence, or has experienced it in the past, the National Domestic Violence Helpline can support you. The Helpline is staffed by fully-trained female support workers who can provide confidential, non-judgmental emotional support and information on a range of issues.
Thinkuknow: If someone has asked you to do things online that you don’t feel comfortable with, Thinkuknow offers advice to young people on sex, relationships and staying safe online.
Step 3 – Start Planning
If you have been experiencing abuse for a while, it might seem as though there is no escape from the person who is abusing you. But now that you’ve spoken to someone, and you’ve gotten professional advice, it’s now time to take action. So, here are a few things that you can do to prepare yourself, if the abuse gets worse;
Make a safe word – If you’ve told someone about what’s happening, it might be useful to make a safe word. The safe word can be anything, such as “pineapple”, or “mister” – but whatever word you choose, it must be a word that you and your trusted person both understand. So if you feel like you are in danger, you can say your safe word and your friend can intervene.
Keep an emergency bag – If you feel it is unsafe to stay somewhere, you can always keep an emergency bag full of essentials in it, at a friend’s house. You can fill it with stuff like your ID, enough money to travel back home, medication, spare clothes and toiletries. If you keep this bag with a friend, at college or with a family member you can always stay at their house if the abuse gets worse.
Memorise important phone numbers – it can be helpful to memorise phone numbers, such as your parent’s number, your best friend’s phone number or your colleague’s phone number. That way, if you don’t have your phone besides you, you can always contact someone using a payphone or someone else’s mobile if you need to.
Call 999 – If an abusive situation escalates, please don’t hesitate to call 999. Although nobody likes to make a huge scene by calling the police, by doing so you can reduce the chance of a situation becoming worse.
Step 4 – Separation
If the relationship is not getting better or if the abuse is escalating, it’s important to be ready to remove yourself from that person entirely. But before you do anything drastic, please let someone you trust know your plans to make sure you don’t leave without any support.
Finally, it’s important to remember that there is always hope. If you are being abused or you know anyone who is in an abusive relationship, please get help or seek professional advice. If you need help now, click here for a list of resources and places you can turn for help. If you ever feel in immediate danger, you should call 999.