Should I speak up?

Constant put-downs can really bring your self-esteem down. Speaking up about things you don’t like lets your BF/GF know that you expect respect, and that your needs are important. But it might be risky if the other person isn’t willing to listen.

Should I speak up?

Do they get angry easily?

It’s not always easy to speak up and say that you don’t like what someone is doing. But if your boyfriend or girlfriend gets aggressive or violent, then it makes speaking up even harder.

Staying safe is the most important thing if you’re dealing with someone who is intimidating.

Trust your instincts. If you’re worried they will hurt you if you speak up, then listen to those feelings. It might be better to keep quiet and get out of the situation rather than confront them.

Tips on how to speak up

At the first point when you’re feeling uncomfortable, challenge it then and there rather than allowing it to escalate. Don’t think that that it is something that’s going to change, it is more likely to get worse. If these things start to become a pattern, walk away and don’t return.

Read Alison’s story

If you can (and if it’s safe to), tell them clearly how their behaviour makes you feel.

Let them know you expect to be treated with respect, and you don’t want them to act this way again.

What you could say

I don’t like it when you do that.

When you laugh at me like that it makes me feel bad.

I like spending time with you but I also need to see my own friends as well.

I feel hurt by what you said.

It’s not okay for you to read my texts. They’re private.

Stop shouting at me.

I like you but I don’t want to have sex.

Am I weak if I don’t speak up?

If he’s in a bad mood, he yells and calls me names. I usually just go quiet. Sometimes he apologises, other times he ignores me. I don’t know why I don’t stand up to him. He’s never actually hit me, but I feel kind of scared of him. I’d be embarrassed to tell anyone because they’d think I’m just weak.

Don’t feel bad about your reaction. It’s difficult to deal with someone who acts like this.

Have you ever stood up to your boyfriend or girlfriend before? If so, did it make the situation better or worse? Are you afraid of getting physically hurt if you stand up to them?

Keeping quiet can be a way of protecting yourself. If your boyfriend or girlfriend gets aggressive or makes you feel scared, then maybe keeping quiet is the best strategy. It may be that you are sensing that he or she could get violent with you.

Or maybe your confidence has been worn down by constant criticism? Even the strongest, most assertive of people can get worn down by abuse.

If you do feel scared of someone, and think that standing up to them might make the abuse worse, then trust your instincts. You are the best judge of what their reaction might be.

A counsellor can help you work out what to do. An experienced counsellor won’t judge you or think you are ‘weak’ – they know how hard it can be to deal with abuse.

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