Friends are those people we spend all of our time with, talk about everything with and with whom we feel the closest. Because of this closeness with our friends, we often know a lot about their personal lives. According to the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 40 percent of teenage girls ages 14 to 17 say they know someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend.
Here at loveisrespect, we understand how hard it can be to see a friend in an unhealthy or abusive relationship. It can be difficult to know what to do in that situation. Here are some things you can do for your friend:
Simply talk. Speaking to your friends about what’s going on can be a difficult conversation. If you feel like your friend is in an unhealthy situation, then it may be time for you to speak up against the abuse. Make sure you do it in a safe place and time to avoid potentially dangerous encounters.
Let your friend just talk. Don’t try to fix the situation for him or her. Only they can ultimately end the relationship. Just let your friend know that you will be their nonjudgmental friend who is there to listen. Don’t share what is discussed with anyone else. It may be dangerous for your friend if word gets out and makes it way back to the abuser.
Focus on their needs. Find out what it is your friend needs at that moment in their life, and help them get it. If they say they need space, give them space. Sometimes they’ll just need someone to listen and not try and give advice. Doing things with your friend that you find enjoyable can be an excellent way to make them feel better.
Educate them. Find out what you can about their specific situation. Call, text or chat with us, and we’ll be happy to help you. You can check out our page on helping a friend. If you give them all the information you can gather and leave them with the resources to get help, then you’ve empowered them in a huge way. Give them a card with our information on it, so that they can talk to a peer advocate when their ready.
Act natural. When a friend knows that you’re there for them, sometimes that’s all the help they need. Don’t try and treat your friend any differently than you always have. The additional or altered attention they receive could just make the situation harder. Be the you that your friend knows in order to keep things as normal as possible in their life.
Staying calm and collected when finding out about a friend’s unhealthy relationship is really important. Don’t forget that you could always direct your friend to us. We are here all day, everyday and we are more than happy to help anyone in an unhealthy relationship.