Chances are you know someone who has experienced or witnessed teen dating abuse, domestic violence, or sexual assault. Although you may really want to tell your friend what to do, such as “get out of the relationship,” or ask them why they would stay with someone who would hurt them, these types of responses put the responsibility of ending the abusive behavior on the person experiencing the abuse. This is called “victim blaming” and could make your friend feel judged and isolated from support even more.
The best practice is to use LEVEL if a friend or peer is experiencing dating abuse, domestic violence, or sexual violence. LEVEL stands for Listen, Empathize, Validate, Encourage and Link. Let's take a look at how to use each part of LEVEL to support a friend or peer.
Make eye contact.
Ask questions rather than give opinions.
Try to feel what they are feeling
"Thank you for sharing with me."
Acknowledge their feelings
"I believe you."
"I'm sorry you're going through this."
"It's not your fault."
Amplify positive affirmations
"I'm here for you and always ready to listen."
Link to resources
"Have you heard of BLOOM365? They provide free and confidential help!"