This post is a Battered Women’s Support Services publication, originally posted at the Ending Violence blog. Cross-posted with permission.
When our friend, family member, loved one is living with abuse by an intimate partner, we have a key role in supporting their journey.
You may be the only person that they can trust. Please read on for tips and tools and become an empowered bystander with the knowledge to help a friend.
Violence in an intimate relationship is a systematic pattern of domination, where the abuser uses abusive tactics designed to maintain power and control over the woman. The Power and Control Wheel was developed by Domestic Violence Intervention Program based in Duluth, Minnesota. The P and C Wheel provides a good illustration of the tactics used by an abuser.
Remember: You may be the only person your friend can trust. Be attentive, believe what she says, tell her you care, and show her you are willing to help.
• Reassure your friend that she does not cause the abuse. An abuser learned to use violence as a way of expressing anger or frustration long before he/she met your friend.
• Physical safety is the first priority. Women frequently minimize the violence because abuse usually gets worse over time. Ignoring the abuse is dangerous. Explain this to your friend and help her to make an emergency safety plan by obtaining transition house phone numbers and considering police and legal protection.
• Tell your friend she is not alone. Abuse happens to many women, of all income and educational levels, in all social classes, in all religious and ethnic groups.
• If she is not ready at this point to make major changes in her life, do not take your friendship away from your friend. Your support may be what will make it possible for her to act at a later date.
• Give your friend BWSS’s brochures, website link, which have information and resources of help for women.
• Help your friend with her self-esteem. Tell her what you admire about her; why you value her as a friend; what are her strengths and special qualities.
• Support her emotions: fear, anger, hope, grief in the loss of her relationships, etc.
• Help with children: they need support for their feelings, to know the reality of what is going on, to know they are not to blame. Read more