How You Can Support a Friend in an Abusive Relationship

Since US President Trump’s election last year, American anxiety has spiked. More adults (particularly those who identify as liberal) are complaining about frequent migraines, stomach aches, sleep problems, and weight fluctuations; all classic physical manifestations of extreme stress and anxiety. A similar spike in hate rhetoric, racist sentiment, and hate violence is believed to be at very least related, according to The Daily Dot.

So why are we talking about abuse? According to Psychology Today, abusers often suffer from anxiety — or at least channel their stress into abusive behavior. If we put these presented statistics together, we may expect to see a rise in abuse. However, it’s very hard to track real trends in abuse because cases are not consistently reported. So if you know or suspect that someone you love is involved in an abusive relationship, here are some tips about how to help your friend get the help that they need.

Use Positive Reinforcement

If you know of or suspect abuse, talk to your friend about it; the trick is to do so in a non-judgmental way. Do not belittle them for being reluctant to get help, nor say “I told you so” if they do not take your advice. It’s hard, but offer ways to help the situation while avoiding putting down their own strategies, even if those strategies are not working. Abuse victims are more likely to suffer from mental health issues like depression, Ultimately, you can only encourage; they need to take the lead in this situation, and if you try then they may push you away.

Be Reliable

Be someone whom your friend can turn to. If your friend wants to keep their situation secret, you should do so unless absolutely necessary. Be available to listen and offer advice when they need it. If you need to create boundaries for your own mental health, figure them out, but do all that you can within those limits to be there for your friend. And always let them know that they are loved and worthwhile, especially when their abuser tells them differently.

Know How to Help in Emergencies

If you suspect that your friend is in serious, imminent trouble, you may need to call the police or emergency services. Often abusers will try to block their victims from getting help themselves, even when they are hurt; if this is a problem, develop some sort of code word or other way that your friend can notify you when there is trouble, so that you can call help for them.

Help Them Get Out

comforting-clasped-hands-friendshipIf your friend realizes that they (and possibly dependents, like children or pets) need to get out, do what you can to help. Plan a strategy to escape without the abuser stopping them. Offer your own home, if this is safe, and direct them to resources like shelters, assault/battery lawyers, etc. (This includes offering your computer if the abuser is believed to be monitoring your friend’s Internet history.) Scrounge up any money or supplies that your friend may need as well if you can.

We hope that these tips will help if you have a loved one in such difficult circumstances.

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Shae Holland Shae Holland is a single mother and freelance writer. Visit her here.