Being the friend or family member of an abused person is never easy. Staying connected with the victim despite your view that she or he should “just leave” takes an even greater toll.
Staying connected, as frustrating as it may be at times, can play an important role in the victim’s eventual decision to make a change in the situation.
Helping your friend or loved one begins by letting them know . . .
that you are concerned
that they are not alone
that they don’t deserve the abuse
that help is available
. . . which can begin to bridge the isolation and open other possibilities.
To break out of the cycle of abuse, victims need to have supports they can to turn to. If a friend or family member does turn to you, the following suggestions may be helpful:
Let the victim talk. Just having someone who will listen will help her or him take stock of the situation.
Let the victim know how important his or her safety is to you, and work together to develop a safety plan. Recognize that the victim’s safety might be more of a priority to you than it is to the victim. Try not to push too hard. Go at your friend’s pace.
Respect the victim’s right to make decisions. Try not to take over responsibility for your friend’s life. Your friend is the one who will live with the consequences of decisions she or he makes and is the one who must take responsibility for them.
Let him/her know that you understand how difficult it is for her/him to make the necessary changes.
Let the victim know that he or she is not alone.
Share information about available resources in the community. Offer to go with your friend the first time to pursue any of the resources.
Stress that the violence is not the victim’s fault and that she or he does not deserve to be abused.
No matter what your friend has said or done, the person who becomes violent is the one responsible for the violence.