Helping a Friend

How do I know if my friend is being abused?

  • Have you seen evidence of injuries?
  • Have you accepted their explanations for black eyes, bruises or broken bones?
  • Do they miss work frequently?
  • Does their partner show an unusual amount of control over their life?
  • Have you noticed changes in their or their children’s behavior?
  • Does their partner embarrass or ridicule them in public?
  • Does their partner blame them for their actions or the things they say?

Start with Knowledge – Learn About Domestic Violence

Before you ever talk with a friend, make sure you know enough about the dynamics of domestic violence and the resources available to so that you won’t endanger them 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 they can do, apart from leaving, will stop the beatings. Leaving doesn’t necessarily end the violence. However, the two years following a decision to leave an abusive partner are the most dangerous for a victim and their children. The majority of reports of domestic violence are made by those who have left the person who harms them. The majority of those who die in the context of domestic violence die leaving, not staying.

Acknowledge Their Situation

  • Do this very gently. If they are unwilling to acknowledge the abuse, don’t press the issue.
  • Do it very carefully. Not only is this person afraid, but in danger too. If the person who is harming them finds out they spoke with you, the person who chooses to abuse will take it out on the victim.
  • No matter how they respond to your overture, assure them that your interest is in their safety and welfare and that anything they tell you will be held in confidence.
  • Let them know that whenever they want it, they can look at material you keep in the house about abusive relationships.

Support Them

  • When they run themselves down, point out their strengths.
  • If they need to talk without coming to resolution, let them
  • When they are ready to make a move, help determine what they will need, offer to keep a suitcase, money, and important papers, be a point of contact if they are in hiding.
  • Watch the children when there are important appointments or just to give a break.
  • Believe in survivors. Expect that there will be setbacks and changes of heart. Let them know that leaving is a process and that you know they can and will make necessary changes in their life.
  • Acknowledge the reality of the losses that survivors face.