How to Help a Friend or Loved One Who is Being Abused
To truly help others is to empower them to act on their own behalf. To genuinely help your friend or loved one, acknowledge her capacity for self-help, thus avoiding the pitfall of becoming a “rescuer.”
Some Practical Things You Can Do:
- Provide her with information about local resources. Safe Connections maintains a 24-hour Crisis Helpline at 314.531.2003. This helpline allows her to talk with an advocate who will help her handle a crisis situation, find resources to help her make changes or simply listen to her.
- Keep in touch. Many people experiencing relationship violence or who have been sexually assaulted feel isolated, either because an intimate partner has imposed that isolation or out of humiliation, fear or shame. By letting her know you care, you are extending a lifeline.
- Listen without judgement. Ask about her situation, directly and gently. Give her time to talk. Reinforce your belief that violence and abuse are never acceptable. And offer your support even if she does not take steps that seem logical to you. Remember, she is the expert on her own situation, and if she doesn’t leave when it makes sense to you to do so, she may have reasons to move at a different pace.
- Mirror her strengths for her. By reminding her of her own strengths, talents and abilities, you help her to see her options. By reminding her of what she has already done for herself, you can support her in acting again in her own best interest.
- Be specific about how you are willing to help. If you can help financially, tell her to what extent. If you can store copies of important papers or extra clothes for her, let her know. If you can provide transporation or a place to stay, that helps her develop her options.
- If you see or hear an assault in progress, call the police. Because these assaults are often dangerous, do not physically intervene.
- Above all, don’t give up. It is unlikely she will change her situation overnight. Every bit of your caring patience may be needed to help her break free of the vicious cycle of violence or abuse that binds her. But knowing you are there for her will help that happen.