My friend is experiencing domestic violence – what should I do?
If your friend is being open with you and acknowledging the violence, this is a positive sign. Try to keep the lines of communication open so that she doesn’t become more isolated. This is often a danger in an abusive situation. However, the decision to leave the relationship has to ultimately come from her and sometimes it can take women several attempts before they leave the relationship for good.
She may be feeling ashamed of what’s happening and feel as if she’s to blame for the violence. An abusive person will often tell the person they are hurting that it is their fault. Domestic violence is always the responsibility of the abuser. There’s nothing that your friend could do that would make it ok for him to abuse her.
Her self-esteem will probably be very low as a result of what has been happening. This can make her feel as if she wouldn’t be able to cope on her own. However, in reality she could probably cope a lot better than she thinks. If she wasn’t being abused she would be able to gradually build up her self-confidence and she would start to feel better about herself.
She may still love him and believe that he may change. This is often why women stay in abusive relationships for a long time. Unfortunately, unless he acknowledges that he has a problem and seeks professional help the abuse is likely to continue. It usually gets worse over time.
Talk to her about all of these things and try not to be judgemental if she isn’t ready to do anything yet. One of the best things that you can do is point her in the direction of some help. Of course it’s fantastic if you can be there to support her but it will also help both her and you if she contacts an organisation for practical and emotional support.
If she wants to leave she could think about accessing some emergency accommodation. There may be legal options she could pursue such as an injunction against him, or involving the police. She could also get in touch with a local domestic violence service for support, whether she wants to leave or to stay in the relationship.
If you need further support or information on how to support a friend, please call The Farr Centre on 01909 533610