Helping an Abused Friend
Helping an Abused Friend
What to Look for if you Suspect Abuse:

  • Is your friend withdrawn, sad, anxious or depressed?
  • Is she drinking or taking pills to calm her nerves?
  • Have you seen physical evidence (i.e. bruises, marks, burns) for which she gives unconvincing reasons?
  • Has your friend cut visits with you short or stopped seeing you completely?
  • Do you know if her partner is the jealous type, quick tempered and easily upset?
  • Do you know if her partner tries to control her behavior (i.e. where she goes, who she goes with, what time she is to be home)?

Safety: The First Priority

  • If your friend has just been assaulted, encourage her immediately to seek medical attention. Many injuries are not immediately apparent.
  • If she has children, find out how they are and whether or not they are in a safe place.
  • Ask if she would like to report the assault to the police. Let her know this is her right.
  • Let your friend know about the shelter for abused women in your area (e.g., Libra House in Happy Valley – Goose Bay)
  • Encourage her to talk to her doctor or anyone she can trust. Shelters for abused women are safe, confidential places to contact for shelter and support. They won't tell anyone she is staying there.

How You Can be Supportive

  • Let your friend know that you believe what she says.
  • Let her know it is not her fault. Abused women are often told that the abuse is their fault, that they did something to provoke the violence.
  • Encourage, but do not pressure your friend to talk about the violence. Shelters are a good place for women to start talking about what has been happening to them. Maybe your friend has other resources, someone they know and can trust.
  • Be sure she knows she can call a shelter to talk about her situation and she will not be placed under any kind of pressure.
  • Offer to accompany your friend to any place she is frightened to approach for help such as the police, the hospital, or a shelter.
  • You may feel like saying negative things about her partner. Stop yourself. Abused women want the violence to stop, but they often still love their partner and want the relationship to change for the better so that it can continue. Criticizing him doesn't help and may add to her inner turmoil.
  • Allow her to make her own decisions. Abusers use violence, in its many forms, to control their partners. As a result, your friend may feel powerless and unable to make decisions. Help her identify her various options but let her evaluate them and make her own choices. This is important in helping her to regain her confidence.
  • Even though it may be difficult sometimes, support her whether she chooses to stay in the relationship or leave. It may take months and even years to make the difficult decision to leave. She may need your support and listening ear for a long time.

Taking Care of Yourself

  • DO NOT confront your friend's abuser about the violence. The person could become violent towards you and/or make it more difficult for you to see your friend. They may also take out their anger on you or your friend. The abuse may become worse as the abuser needs to step up attempts to maintain control.
  • Talk to some about your own feelings and how what is happening to your friend is affecting you. Do this without giving away your friend's name or identifying her in any way. Again shelters are a great place to talk to someone.

Source: Libra House - Shelter for abused women and children
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