Helping a Friend
If you believe that a friend is in an abusive situation, you may not know how to help. If the friend hasn't told you that the situation is abusive, try asking him or her directly, and talking to her or him about different kinds of abuse. There may be an innocent explanation for what you have observed, but it is also possible that your friend hasn't known how to talk about what's happening and needs support.
If a friend confides in you about abuse, the most important thing is to listen and be supportive. Remember that the abuse is not your friend's fault, and try to help him or her leave the abusive relationship. Listen to your friend without judging him or her. Even if your friend is not yet able to get out of the abusive situation, she or he may want to talk about what's going on. Sometimes an abuser will try to isolate their target from friends, but try to keep your connection with your friend. This connection may be the first step towards getting out of the relationship, and it can be vital for your friend's safety.
Your friend may ask you to keep the abuse a secret, but for her or his safety, it is very important to talk to a trusted adult. It's important to respect your friend's privacy by not telling other friends and acquaintances, but by telling an adult, you are protecting your friend and helping him or her leave a dangerous situation. Even if the abuse seems minor, remember that abuse escalates; telling an adult now may save your friend from a dangerous situation in the future. Although your friend may be upset at first that you let an adult know, protecting his or her safety is the most important thing you can do as a friend.
Author: Anna Rafferty, college student writer