The unfortunate truth is that we have all met at least one victim of domestic violence, whether we were aware of it or not. Being a friend to someone who’s in an abusive relationship can be heartbreaking, frustrating and terrifying; it can also be the relationship that saves her life.
If you suspect that your friend is a victim of domestic violence here are some steps you can take to help her.
- Acknowledge that you’re aware of her situation in a safe, loving and nonjudgmental manner. Tell her that you love her and that you are there for her, and ask her what you can do to help. Don’t expect her to ask for help right away, or even admit she’s being abused. It’s likely that she’s tried to hide it for a very long time; don’t expect her to immediately confirm your suspicions.
- Don’t tell her what to do. It’s tempting to put your foot down and try to force her to leave the relationship, but until she’s ready to leave she’ll continue returning to her abuser. Instead of telling her what to do tell her how you feel. Let her know that you’re scared for her and want her to be happy.
- Help her make a safety plan and be prepared to spend a lot of time with her when she finally leaves the relationship. Support her, and do what you can to boost her self-esteem and remind her how she deserves to be treated.