Not all relationships work out, no matter how much we might want them to. When a relationship becomes violent or destructive, it can be both physically and emotionally dangerous for the people involved. Any type of relationship can become abusive: between couples, parents/children, siblings – even friendships. Abuse is rooted in one person trying to maintain power and control through physical, emotional, economic or sexual abuse.
Key signs of an abusive relationship
Signs to watch out for before the relationship becomes physically violent include: possessiveness, jealousy, put-downs, threats, yelling, sulking, and breaking things.
What to do if you are being abused
It's not OK to be physically threatened, scared into things that make you uncomfortable or unhappy, to be put down and pushed around, or for someone to use the excuse that they are tired, stressed, over-worked or under pressure as a reason for their violent behavior. If you are feeling unsafe, find another place to stay with friends or family. If that's not possible, find an emergency shelter.
Breaking the cycle of violence
Ending any kind of relationship is hard to do, but it can be particularly difficult to leave a violent or abusive relationship. The first step in changing things is to understand that what's been happening to you is wrong. Even if the abuser says they care about you, it's NOT OK to be treated like this.
Where to get help
If something doesn't feel right in your relationship, it probably isn't. Your first responsibility is to yourself and figuring out how to protect yourself. Talk to someone who cares about you. Talk to a family member, a friend or someone in your community like your doctor, teacher, coach, counselor, or your local religious leader. The sources listed below can help you get safe.
Hotlines: Many free help hotlines are available if you think you're being abused, or are worried for a friend you suspect could be being abused.
- National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline at 1-866-331-9474. Their website also has a free live web chat that's staffed by young people who can offer you support.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) offers highly-trained advocates 24/7/365 to talk confidentially with anyone experiencing domestic violence, seeking resources or information, or questioning unhealthy aspects of their relationship.
- Your Life Your Voice is a national hotline for kids, teens and young
adults who may be depressed, contemplating suicide, being physically or sexually abused, on the run, addicted, threatened by gang violence, fighting
with a friend or parent, or faced with an overwhelming challenge
Please visit our Crisis & Support page for information on local programs and resource that can help you keep safe.
Acknowledgement: This fact sheet was originally developed by youth and staff at ReachOut.com, a website that helps teens get through tough times.
Many articles in this section were adapted from WeRNative.org, a website for Native Youth by Native Youth