How to be a friend
Being in a situation where abuse is occurring is often a very lonely place, support becomes extremely important and for someone to know they have a true friend is important – if they stay or leave… Knowing someone out there cares for you can give strength…
Make sure your friend know you are there to talk to.
Try if you can to make sure you are in private and you won’t be disturbed or distracted.
Let them know you care and are concerned about their safety.
Be honest and explain when you were concerned. Explain that no one deserves abuse, help the person see what abuse is… your friend might get defensive and deny any abuse but realisation can take time – let them know you will always be there, and mean it, regardless of what they decide.
Acknowledge and realise it might take an awful lot of courage and bravery to tell you about the abuse she/he is experiencing… let them speak, listen and allow your friend the time to share their story without judgement.
Don’t place blame or guilt or shame on your friend.
Don’t say “just leave” or “I don’t get why you are still with him/her” instead offer your concern for her safety… “I get worried thinking about what might happen…”
Help her/him make a safety plan
Safety planning is vital and can also be a way for someone to realise that there might really be a way out. It helps them plan in advance for the possibility of future violence and abuse. It also helps them to think about how they can increase their safety either within the relationship, or if they decide to leave.
Encourage your friend to seek professional support
Look if there is a local domestic abuse organisation like Rotherham Rise (contact details) that might be able to help them.
Let your friend know that no matter what – decisions to leave or stay or other choices… you are there.
It can be very frustrating and difficult to see someone you care about in an abusive relationship… You cannot force someone to leave, but you can let them know you’ll help. The loss friends, which happens often, often means people get even further isolated thereby will struggle even more to seek out the support they need.
Rotherham Rise is actively looking for volunteers and businesses that want to support the needed and valuable work we do – find out more about how you can make the difference to women, men and children affected by abuse – click here to find out more.