Being a friend or relative to someone who is in an abusive relationship
is frustrating. You care about their safety and welfare and
yet you are seemingly helpless to do anything about it. Your
friendship is an important lifeline for them and you are offering
an enormous amount of help when you care, listen in a non-judgmental
way and support the healthy, positive aspects of their life.
You are not helpless
Here are some ideas about how you can
help your friend:
- Find out as much as you can about
Domestic Violence. Call [Monadnock Center for Violence Prevention
link to site] at 603-352-3782. Educating yourself is always
a good thing.
- Bring up the subject. Don't
be afraid to let your friend know you're
concerned. Let them know you can see what is happening and
that they are not alone. Be sure that you talk with them
in an environment which is safe for your friend. For example,
do not discuss your concerns in front of their abuser. Respect
your friend's boundaries and confidences.
- They are not to blame.
- Acknowledge that they are in
a very difficult and scary situation. ` Listen to your friend.
Encourage them to express their feelings:
- The abuser, not the victim, is responsible.
- Don't accept your friend's denial.
Let them know that you are concerned for their safety. Don't
push the issue - you want to keep your relationship door
open. Your friend needs to realize you will still be there
as a safe and supportive person in their life.
- Resist temptations to call the abuser
names or put them down personally. Focus on the behaviors,
not the person. If your friend decides to reconcile or stay
in the relationship and your have expressed disgust toward
the abuser instead of toward his or her behavior, then your
friend will be less likely to seek your support should they
need it in the future. This only furthers the isolation
your friend may be experiencing.
- Respect your friend's right to make
their own decisions. They need to
find their own way to the important decisions in their life
- Discuss what you have learned about
domestic violence with your friend.
Share the information.
- Support your friend by being there
for them and going with them to
important appointments dealing with the abuse. Let them
do the talking and you be the caring, silent support source.
- If they are contemplating leaving
an abusive relationship, help create
a [safety plan link to safety plan]. Remember it is important
that your friend feels comfortable with the plan - never
encourage them to follow a plan that they don't consider
Caring about your friend and their safety
is an important step in helping them leave an abusive relationship.
Your friendship, patience and support will help empower your
friend and hopefully lead them to a safer and happier way
of life. To know more about how to support a friend who is
in an abusive relationship, a good book to read is To
Be An Anchor In The Storm. A Guide for Families and Friends
of Abused Women by Susan Brewster, M.S.S.W.