When you hear that a friend or family member is being abused, your general and instinctive reaction is usually to go visit the abuser and beat them up so they know how it feels. But take a step back, slow down and think…who are you helping and what exactly can you do that will really help.
Keep in mind that violence will not solve your friend or family member’s situation, so DON’T CONFRONT THE ABUSER.
Here are some things you can do to help:
Listen without judgment: Almost every person I have spoken with that have been in an abusive relationship states that it helped them to have someone to talk to about what was happening. They explained that the more they talked about what was happening, the more they realized they needed to make changes to keep them and their children safe.
When someone speaks to you about being abused please try to remember not to judge them or blame them for what is happening. Instead, remind them repeatedly that it is not their fault and that they are very brave to speak up about what is happening.
Let them know that you are there for them whenever they need you or need something.
Learn as much as you can about abuse: Do some research about abuse and available resources that can help your friend or family member. Remember that it may not be safe for them to do this research themselves. Get information on shelters, counselling and other community programs and keep it handy so when they are ready to leave you have this information and can help them to move quickly.
Safety Plan: Help to prepare a safety plan. Where can they go? Who can they turn to for help? What documents do they need to take with them? Offer to keep copies of documents and bags of clothes at your home for when it’s needed. Offer to pick them up when they are ready to leave.
Be Supportive: Regardless of their decision, whether it is to leave or stay with the abuser, be supportive. They will leave when they feel strong enough and are ready to do so. Point out all the brave things they do each day to help to rebuild their confidence and negate all the negative messages being given by the abuser.
BE CONSISTENT AND PATIENT