How do I tell my friends their dark humour isn’t funny?

University of Leeds
2 min readFeb 23, 2024

‘I have a close group of friends that I spend a lot of time with. We get on really well but sometimes a couple of them make jokes about sexual violence. It makes me so uncomfortable but when I tell them, they say it’s just their dark sense of humour. I don’t know how to call them out on it. How do I explain to them that this isn’t okay?’

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Having serious conversations with your friends can be difficult. When we disagree with someone we’re close to, we sometimes don’t feel like we can speak up. In moments like these, the best thing to do is to think about your morals and beliefs. It’s scary, but it’s important to communicate your feelings, set your boundaries, and call others out when you don’t agree with them.

The first step is to start an open, healthy, and calm discussion. Bring up the issue when you feel comfortable, perhaps in private, when your friends are calm and receptive.

Start the conversation by expressing how their dark humour and comments make you feel. This will help your friends to understand the impact their words have. Remind them that jokes about sexual violence are not funny; humour should never be used at the expense of someone’s pain, trauma, or experiences.

Close up image on lower half of a person’s face, laughing.

The next step is to communicate your boundaries. Make it clear that you won’t tolerate jokes about sexual violence. You deserve to feel safe and respected in your friendships.

When having the conversation, be open to hearing your friends’ perspectives as well. It’s important to be patient; they may not have understood the impact of their words. Don’t forget that changing attitudes and behaviours takes time and that calling out these behaviours is a positive step towards change.

You are not alone. If you’ve experienced any kind of violence, abuse, bullying, harassment, sexual misconduct or discrimination, we’re here to help. Explore support options in our community, including specialist support offered by the Harassment and Misconduct team here at Leeds.

Written by Aria Aristotelous, SASHA