How Can I Help a Friend/Family Member in Danger?
If you know someone who is being abused, you can help her by showing you care. Let her speak confidentially about her situation and without judgment. You may be the only person with whom she feels comfortable. Show you care in these ways:
How do I know if my friend is being abused?
• Have you seen evidence of injuries?
• Have you accepted her explanations for her black eyes, bruises or broken bones?
• Does she miss work frequently?
• Does her partner show an unusual amount of control over her life?
• Have you noticed changes in her or her children’s behavior?
• Does her partner embarrass or ridicule her in public?
• Does her partner blame her for the way he acts or the things he says?
Start with Knowledge – Learn About Domestic Violence
Before you ever talk with her, make sure you know enough about the dynamics of domestic violence and the resources available to her so that you won’t endanger her further. In the absence of meaningful intervention, abuse in a relationship only gets worse. The beatings will grow more frequent and they will inflict great harm. Although any excuse will do, there is no good reason to beat an intimate partner. The victim of such violence is never to blame. AND, nothing she can do, apart from leaving him, will stop the beatings. Leaving doesn’t necessarily end the violence, however. The two years following a woman’s decision to leave her abusive partner are the most dangerous for her and her children. The majority of reports of domestic violence are made by women who have left their abusers. The majority of women who die in the context of domestic violence die leaving, not staying.
Acknowledge Her Situation
• Do this very gently. If she is unwilling to acknowledge the abuse, don’t press the issue.
• Do it very carefully. Not only is she afraid, but in danger too. If her abuser finds out she spoke with you, he will take it out on her.
• No matter how she responds to your overture, assure her that your interest is in her safety and welfare and that anything she tells you will be held in confidence.
• Let her know that whenever she wants it, she can look at material you keep in the house about abusive relationships.
• When she runs herself down, point out her strengths.
• If she needs to talk without coming to resolution, let her.
• When she’s ready to make a move, help her determine what she will need, offer to keep a suitcase, money, and important papers, be a point of contact for her if she is in hiding.
• Watch the children when she has important appointments or just to give her a break.
• Believe in her. Expect that there will be setbacks and changes of heart. Let her know that leaving is a process and that you know she can and will make necessary changes in her life.
• Acknowledge the reality of the losses that she faces.