Helping a friend who is in an abusive relationship is often stressful and can be dangerous. You need to look after your own physical and emotional well-being.
- Never confront the abuser. That could make things worse.
- Talk with someone about your feelings, fears, frustrations and reactions to the abuse. You can do this without identifying the person you care about.
- Envision often assists individuals whose friends, co-workers and family members are being abused.
If the person has been physically abused:
- Offer to accompany them to the doctor’s office if they have injuries.
- Ask if they wish to report the assault to the City Police or RCMP; if so, offer to accompany them or for a volunteer/counsellor to accompany them.
- Find out if the children have been hurt, if so, they too should receive medical attention. Ministry of Social Services and/or the police must also be notified.
- Help them to find a safe place to stay.
People who have been abused may come to believe that they have no control in their life and no ability to make decisions.
To help people who are being abused feel more confident and regain control:
- Let them know that there are no simple solutions but that change is possible.
- Help them look after their own safety.
- Suggest different options available and help them evaluate each one.
- Allow them to decide which option is best. Even if you strongly disagree, remember that it’s their life, not yours.
- Let the person know that you will stand by them no matter what they decide.
Remember: Don’t give up on them just because decisions they make are different from the ones you might make. It does not mean they do not want or need your support. Don’t forget that there are no simple, easy solutions. If you know someone who is hurting, don’t ignore the abuse – or the person.
In addition to supporting their choices, you can also:
- Find out all you can about partner abuse by contacting someone who has information on the topic. Libraries and internet are often wonderful resources.
- Read additional resources on how to help. Helping Her Get Free – A Guide for Families and Friends of Abused Women written by Susan Brewster, is a great source of information.
- Make a list of phone numbers of agencies and individuals who can offer services.
The more informed you are the more help you can be to a victim.