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Five ways to be supportive when your BFF/fam is in an abusive relationship

One of the most difficult situations is watching a friend or family member suffer from mental or physical abuse. There’s only so much you can say, and in the end the choice stays in the hands of the person living through that experience.

It’s easy to panic when you are worried for the wellbeing of someone you care about. Here are five great tips that helped me when my close friend was in a scary place.

1) Let them know they have your support, regardless of whether or not they stay with the abuser. This is the time when they need you the most, whether or not you agree with their decisions. If you give up on them, or get mad, it will push them further into the arms of the abuser.

2) Make sure they know their feelings are valid. Do not force them to talk about it if they don’t want to. If they are mourning their relationship, let them mourn; if they want you to stop asking, stop.

3) Help then make a safety plan. This can include having emergency numbers, escape plans, safe words, signals, pay-as-you-go phones

4) Connect them with resources and professionals. This can include but is not limited to therapists, counselors, social workers, people who have experienced abuse, or emergency officials. They can chat with a peer activist, go to local support groups,  they can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224 or theseo, or they can visit helpful websites. You can also help direct them to sites which gives them their legal rights and explains how to break a lease and settle custody claims.

5) Listen to them, and let them know that they are not responsible for the abuse. At all costs, do not lecture and try to confine or control their actions; their abuser does enough of that. Like I said earlier, they need your care support more now than ever before. But also, if they ask for space, give them space. The best thing you can do is set a good example for them.

If you have any doubts or concerns, that a friend or family member might be in an abusive relationship, here are some warning signs to look out for:

  • fear of angering someone
  • heightened depression and/or anxiety
  • sudden change in personality or behavior
  • distancing themselves from friends and family
  • have very low self-esteem
  • wear loose clothes and has random cuts and/or bruises

If you need anyone to talk to, or have any questions, feel free to comment.

Featured image credit: Kristin Schmitt, CC

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