Need help? Reach out. People Care

Trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe, you probably are. Don’t wait; talk to someone you trust immediately, a parent or the parent of a friend, an older sibling, a teacher, school counselor, or school nurse, your doctor or faith-based leader. It’s not your fault. If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

If you talk to an adult, know that some adults are prohibited by law from keeping dating violence a secret. They must tell the police about the abuse. These people are called “mandated reporters.” Some examples of mandated reporters are teachers, counselors, doctors, and sometimes coaches or other activity leaders. You can ask people whether they are mandated reporters before talking with them.

If you want to stay in the relationship, realize that the violence will not just stop or go away. You cannot change your boyfriend or girlfriend’s behavior by changing your behavior, nor are you in any way responsible for the abuse. Your boyfriend or girlfriend may need counseling or other outside help to change and you may need support so that you can begin to heal.


Enhance your safety

You should think ahead about ways to be safe if you are in a violent dating relationship. It takes a lot of courage to end any relationship. If there’s violence involved, it can take a whole lot more. Here are some things to consider in thinking about your safety.

  • Who can you tell about the abuse?
  • What people at school can you tell
    –teachers, principal, counselors, security?
  • Consider changing your school locker or lock.
Where to get help

If someone is in immediate danger, call 911.
If you or a friend might be in an abusive relationship, talk to a parent/caregiver, a school counselor, or another adult you trust, or a local domestic or sexual violence program.

Hotline Numbers

National Dating Abuse Helpline

1-866-331-9474 or to chat online

National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

National Sexual Assault Hotline

1-833-656-HOPE (4673) or to chat online

  • Consider changing your route to/from school.
  • Use a buddy system for going to school, classes and after school activities.
  • What friends can you tell to help you remain safe?
  • If stranded, who could you call for a ride home? What is that person’s phone number?
  • Keep a journal describing the abuse.
  • Change the number to any cell phones the abuser gave you. Keep a cell phone, money, the number of someone who could help you and any protection order with you at all times.
  • Where could you go quickly to get away from an abusive person? Do you know the address or route to get there?

Court Civil Protection Order or School Stay Away Order

  • A protection order is civil court order that can restrict or prohibit contact between an individual who is experiencing abuse and the person engaging in abusive behavior. Contact your local courthouse to see if you are eligible to apply. Ask your school administrators if you can have a school stay away order.
  • As a teen, you may be able to apply for a civil protection order without a parent. Some laws permit parents or a guardian to apply for a protective order on your behalf.
  • You may be able to apply for a protection order even if criminal charges have not been filed against the person harassing you, or if you have already obtained a No Contact Order as part of a criminal proceeding.
  • You can ask the court to make changes that will enhance your safety – such as changing your school class schedule, restricting the abuser from attending your school events.
  • Make copies of the protection order and keep one with you at all times

Help a friend who is being abused

  • Listen and ask how you can help.
  • Don’t blame the victim for the crime.
  • Tell your friend that you’re worried.
  • Encourage your friend to seek help.
  • Avoid confronting the abuser. It could be dangerous.
  • Support your friend to make his or her own decisions.

Help a friend who is abusive

When talking to a friend who is being abusive, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Be specific about what you saw and how it made you feel.
  • Make sure the your friend realizes that his or her actions have consequences, and he or she could get into serious trouble—from getting expelled from school to going to jail.
  • Urge your friend to get help, from a counselor, coach, or any trusted adult, and offer to go with her or him if they want support.
  • Let your friend know that you care and that you know he or she has it in him to change.
  • Many teens who hurt their girlfriends or boyfriends don’t consider themselves “abusers”—many are in denial about the severity of their actions. It’s hard for us, as their friends, to believe it, too. But reaching out and talking to a friend we think is being violent in her or his relationship is an act of friendship, though it may seem like the hardest thing you can do.
  • Talk to an adult you trust, one who you think will get your friend the help he or she needs and stick by you and support you for talking to them.