Tips on How to help a Friend who's in an Abusive Relationship
Adapted from Women's Rural Advocacy Program, "The Basics of Being Supportive" at www.letswrap.com and enhanced by members of the San Diego Domestic Violence Council.
- Tell them it's not them fault. You can never make someone else hurt you.
- Tell them they doesn't deserve it. No one ever deserves to be hurt.
- Tell them they're not crazy. A person who's been abused often feels upset, depressed, confused, and scared. Let them know these are normal feelings to have.
- Don't try to pretend that the abuse isn't happening, or that it isn't that bad. Let your friend know that you take it very seriously; pretending it's no big deal doesn't make it go away.
- Tell them good things about themselves. Let them know you think they're smart, strong, and brave. them abuser is telling them they is stupid and tearing down them self-esteem.
- Try to help your friend break out of the isolation their abuser has put them in. Keep in contact with them on the phone or by going out with them.
- Don't spread gossip--it could put them in danger.
- Don't try to make them do anything they doesn't want to (it won't work unless it's them decision).
- Encourage them to build a wide support system-- go to a support group, talk to friends and family.
- Don't blame them for the abuse or them decisions; leaving an abusive relationship is hard and usually takes a long time.
- See if they needs medical attention--they may not realize the extent of them injuries.
- Give them good information about abuse--you can call your local crisis line and get information about the impact of abuse on children and that drugs and alcohol do not cause domestic violence.
- Tell them that domestic violence is a crime and they can call 911 for help. If it's not safe to stay on the phone with the operator run or go to safe place.
- Help them develop a safety plan for the time they stays as well as the time when they leaves.
- Listen. Let them express all their fears and feelings. Even giving them good advice in a kind and respectful manner can be received as pressure and/or a reminder of everything they is not doing "right."
- Don't initially challenge or reject them feelings of shame, guilt, or embarrassment. Give them time. they needs to come to them own conclusions about them self-defeating thinking. If they follows what you say, then they has substituted one kind of dependence for anotthem.
- Don't blame or attack the abuser. It will confuse them and, perhaps, move them to defend themselves. Up to now they may have found some internal peace by making excuses for a person who says he/they loves them yet can abuse them so badly.
- Be patient. their self-empowerment may take longer that you want. Go at the victim's pace, not yours, unless the danger is imminent.
- Ask them about the children. Encourage them to talk about the effects this is having on them. Validate those concerns. It may help them leave in future.
- Don't give up. Let them know you will always be there for them when they may need help or just needs someone to talk to.