Being an Active Bystander
We are all bystanders to dating violence, because this type of abuse occurs in every Rhode Island community.
Teen dating violence is a serious issue affecting 8.8% of Rhode Island high school students, according to the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. When we look at how young Rhode Islanders who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual responded, the number more than doubles to 23%.
There are steps that each of us can take to make a difference in a dating violence situation or to prevent one from happening in the first place. Such steps include asking the victim if they are okay, telling a trusted adult, or offering the victim resources and information.
It's often a simple act from a caring bystander that can be a lifeline to someone experiencing dating violence. That's why being educated on the issue and knowing where to get help is so important.
This tool is called Know What to Do: Help Someone Experiencing Domestic or Dating Violence.
Use it to start a conversation with anyone you know or suspect is experiencing abuse and to find ways you can support them.
It can be difficult for someone outside of the relationship to understand, but it is very hard to end an abusive relationship.
One way to help the victim stay safe is to create a personalized, practical plan that can help them avoid dangerous situations and identify the best steps to take if they are in danger.
Visit loveisrespect.org for an Interactive Guide to Safety Planning.
Here are some tips when creating a plan to help keep someone safe:
- Listen and be supportive. Allow the person to make their own decisions.
- Don't judge, blame, or belittle. The person's partner may already put them down, and their self-esteem may be low.
- Connect the person to help and resources in their area.
- Don't post about the person on social networking sites. Never use social media to reveal their current location or where they hang out.
Finally, don't give up. Ending any relationship, especially an abusive one, is complicated, and those experiencing dating violence need strong support systems in order to do so. Read more about the importance of support systems at loveisrespect.org.