Susie Kroll has worked in various trainings, seminars, and keynotes to provide teens with an understanding of what dating abuse really is. A report conducted by Teenage Unlimited claimed that “57 percent of teens know someone who has been physically, sexually, or verbally abusive in a dating relationship.” Kroll’s mission is to spread awareness by answering your deepest questions on teen related violence.
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One reader asked, “I’m not very close with my next door neighbor but we chat often, I can hear yelling and sometimes loud sounds as if objects are being thrown around the room, should I talk to my neighbor about it? They may need help.”
Susie Kroll: This is a touchy situation and one that merits some consideration. All I can do is put myself in your shoes. I see there being two options. One is that you could casually talk to your neighbor if you see her (I assume this is a woman) and say something like, “How are you?” See how she responds. If she seems willing to chat and make some small talk then that’s good. You then can decide if you want to ask her if everything is okay since you heard some loud noises coming from the house. If she seems fearful or withdrawn, I would not force the conversation. She could be fearful of talking to you because it would make her alleged abuser angry. I would caution you not to do this if the person you think is the abuser is present. You would not want the alleged abuser taking out any aggressions on her because of your inquires. The second option, and the safer one in my book, is to call the police and report the noises, shouting, and throwing of things as they are occurring. You have the option to report it without giving your name. The police will better be able to determine what is going on when they respond to the home. You cannot hold yourself responsible for what an abuser decides to do if the police arrive. I would also never tell your neighbor that you are the one that made the call. You do not want to possibly become the focus of the alleged abuser’s irritation. Just remember, it is better to report the incident and be wrong than not say anything and be right.
Amanda asked, “What if my partner threatens my family or friends? What should I do?”
SK: When it comes to Dating Violence and Domestic Violence the abuser has one key tool to maintain his or her power and control over the victim. That tool is isolation. An abuser seeks to control the victim’s life, decisions, friends, work, and school by telling them what they should and shouldn’t do. Making threats is a common way for an abuser to gain and maintain power and control over the victim. When the victim does something that the abuser sees as apposing his or her control, the act out in anger. The victim then experiences either or all of the following types of abuse: verbal, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. Over time the victim learns what to do and what not to do in order to not make their abuser angry. Isolation of the victim is the best way to break down the victim and make them feel shamed and alone. The abuser seeks to keep the victim from anyone that loves or can help support the victim. One of the common treats made by abusers is the possibility of harm to the victim’s friends or family. Of course, since the victim loves their friends and family they usually stop seeing them in order to protect them and themselves from their abuser.
If your partner is threatening your family or friends there are a few things to consider. Is the abuser telling you that he or she will hurt your friends or family or are the threats being made to the friends or family members directly? Are they or you in immediate danger? If so, please call the police. In Dating Violence/Domestic Violence situations, the threats to friends and family are usually made to the victim only, as the abuser doesn’t seek to control the friends or family, just the victim. If you are scared for your friends or family, tell them what is going on. Tell them about the threats and have them help you. Do not let the abuser isolate you from your family or friends. If you need help with how to make a safety plan for getting out of the relationship you can always call the National Dating Abuse Hotline at 1-866-331-9474. They will be able to give you direct assistance and get more information about your situation and tailor a plan to your specific needs. By getting yourself more information and getting help you can be better educated and decide how to handle threats made by your partner. Get all the information that you can and make the best decision you can for yourself and your situation.
Reasons to Be Beautiful Magazine features questions from our readers in a “Q&A From a Teen Dating Violence Expert” column every week. Please send all questions to Dating@ReasonstoBeBeautiful.com. If you wish to remain anonymous, please tell us in your e-mail. You may ask as many questions as you desire.
*Names changed to protect our readers who wish to remain anonymous.