When the supporter needs support

As the sole source of emotional support for his distraught girlfriend, Josh* was mentally and emotionally depleted. His girlfriend had become increasingly removed from school and friends – everyone except Josh.

She stopped coming to school. She called Josh during class and at all hours of the day or night. She expected him to talk to her no matter the time of day, even at two or three o’clock in the morning.  

After four or five months of this behaviour with no end in sight, Josh was exhausted and unsure of what to do. He suggested they end the relationship, and she threatened to kill herself.

When the supporter needs support

That’s when he called Kids Help Phone and got Counsellor Caitlin on the line. Along with being worried about his girlfriend, he was feeling trapped – concerned it might be his fault if she followed through with her threat. 

Caitlin recognized that Josh was dealing with a form of emotional abuse from his girlfriend, who in turn was struggling with verbal and physical abuse at home. 

Caitlin assured him that he’d done everything right. He’d gone above and beyond in his support of his girlfriend. He’d told others about the issue, including school counsellors, friends and parents. There was a lot of awareness about what was going on with his girlfriend. 

The one thing Josh hadn’t done? Let someone know just how much he was being affected.

Caitlin let Josh know how good it was that he was taking care of himself by calling Kids Help Phone. Then, she helped him construct a plan for his own support. She also helped him practice what he could say to his girlfriend, and reinforced that he should call 911 if he thought she was going to harm herself.

Josh left the call feeling more empowered about his next course of action.

*These stories are based on actual calls with a child and a Kids Help Phone counsellor. The name of the child, as well as the identifying details of the call, have been changed to protect their anonymity and confidentiality.

Read more newsletter articles:
The impact of abuse on youth mental health
When home is hurtful
“I wish there had been someone there for me.”
The safety plan
Counsellor's Corner: Why youth counselling is my calling