This week I’d like to discuss what we can do to help if we have a friend or loved one who is in an abusive relationship.
Listen We can gently ask questions about the situation and make sure not be judgmental. Allow her to tell us whatever she feels comfortable with, but make sure not to force the dialogue. Talking about it is a taking a first big step and we can let her know how proud of her we are.
Educate We can explain the long term effects of abuse on her and her children. Women suffer both physical and mental health problems as a result of abuse. Children can also suffer from mental problems and have higher rates of substance abuse use. They also grow up in a home where they don’t know what a healthy relationship is.
Inform We can get her the information on a domestic violence organization in her area. This can be very helpful to her as she considers her options. Many organizations offer counseling and a safety shelter.
Empower We can remind her that the abuse is not her fault. For the abuser, it’s all about control. The abuser wants to dominate and manipulate. Remind her that abuse is a crime and she is not to blame.
Patience This is a very hard one for family and friends. She may not leave right away after she tells you what’s going on, or she may not leave at all. Knowing the situation she is in, we want to get her to a good emotional stage and physical safety, but she may not be ready to leave. She may feel that she loves him. It is very difficult to not pressure her into leaving, but we don’t want her to turn away from us.
Safety Plan. It is very important to discuss safety with her. Regardless if she’s planning to leave, she needs to have a safety plan in case she gets in danger. Click here for information on a coming up with a safety plan.
Most importantly, we can be there for her through this very difficult time in her life. Remember, if we can just help one woman, we’ve done our job.