What friends are for
Friends are the people we have fun with, enjoy being with and who we turn to for advice and support.
It is for this reason that often the first person that someone suffering abuse confides in is a friend.
But what can a friend do?
It is a question we are asked on a regular basis, often by people who think the answer is “nothing”.
There is actually lots you can do to help a friend living with abuse. What is most important, however, is that you don’t do anything to put yourself or your friend in danger.
It might be that the abuser checks her mobile phone and her emails, so conversations between you about what is happening should be in person and in private.
Don’t be tempted to confront or accuse the perpetrator, he could be violent.
What you can do first is show that you care. Make sure she knows you believe her; the feeling that someone does will bring her a huge sense of relief after what could be months or even years of feeling nobody cares and nobody will believe her. Having that support is very helpful.
Stress how brave she has been to tell even you and say it was the right thing to do. If she gets support from you it might persuade her, a little further down the line, to ask for help from others, such as support organisations like ours.
Reassure her that what is happening is not her fault and she does not deserve it. The only person responsible for abuse is the abuser; not her, not alcohol, not problems at work. She needs to hear this to build her confidence and allay her fears.
What would she like you to do? Tell her you are there to help and there are others that can provide confidential assistance and advice. Get advice numbers yourself and tell her you can let her have them when she is ready or help her hide or disguise them in some way. Do what she asks, never decide for her that she should leave or take other action.
Our advice really is to do what friends do automatically for each other – be there and be kind.
Friends and family who have concerns about someone in their circle are welcome to call us for advice.
Thank you for being a friend.
In the second of our blogs about domestic abuse and older women, we look at the role health professionals can play in helping survivors At Broxtowe Women’s Project, we are determined to make ourselves accessible to all women suffering abuse. In our previous blog, it was identified that despite suffering high levels of abuse, older … Continue reading A healthier approach