Today we are going to talk a bit about how to be a good friend to someone who is experiencing abuse within a relationship. Feel free to use the following list as a guideline on how to support your friend(s).
1) Believe your friend
Listen and believe your friend’s story. It takes a lot of courage to tell someone about experiencing violence. Make sure that your friend knows that you believe them and are there for them.
2) Let them know that they do not deserve to be abused
Many times the person using abuse makes the person being abused believe that the violence is their fault. Let your friend know that the violence is not their fault and that they never, under any circumstance, deserve to be abused.
3) Present resources
Compile a list of local and national resources for your friend to reach out to, when they are ready. For Boulder, we have already mentioned the SPAN (303) 444-2424 and MESA (303) 443-7300 hotlines as local resources.
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1(800) 799-7233
4) Help them create a Safety Plan
Help your friend compile a list of resources, of trusted adults, and emergency services that they can reach out to in a time of need. Help them think of ideas that have kept them safe. Make sure they have a safe place to seek refuge in and that they interact with their partner in public spaces.
5) Let them make their own decisions
Telling your friend what to do, will only further perpetuate the lack of control that they may be feeling in their life. It is important that they make their own decisions. Provide a list of resources and talk about who can help. They will make the choice to seek help when they feel safe and ready. They are the experts in their own life and experience.
6) Keep it to yourself
Unless your friend is under immediate danger, make sure that you are respecting your friend’s privacy and allow them to make their own decisions. If you feel that your friend is in danger, speak to a trusted adult about how to seek help.
7) Take care of yourself
Remember that there is only so much that you can do. Once you have worked with your friend to compile a safety plan and have listened empathically, it is up to them to decide how to proceed in their relationship. It is important that throughout this experience you also take care of yourself. It is important to process your own feelings with someone you trust. When doing this, make sure you are sharing the plot and not the characters. That is, unless your friend is in immediate danger, you share the story without breaking your friend’s request for confidentiality. You can also reach out to the SPAN (303) 444-2424 and/or MESA (303) 443-7300 hotlines to speak confidentially to someone that can provide support 24/7.
If at any point you have questions and/or need to speak to someone about a friend’s relationship, please call either the SPAN (303) 444-2424 or MESA (303) 443-7300 hotlines. MESA and SPAN have specially trained counselors who are available 24/7/365. The hotlines are free, and they also have Spanish-speaking counselors.
You don’t need to be in crisis to call the phone numbers. You can call anytime, even if just to say, ‘I saw something happen between two friends of mine and I didn’t know what to think,’ or ‘I’m just looking for some information.’
Anyone can call these numbers. You can call about a friend, a family member, or about yourself. The call is totally confidential and you don’t need to give the counselor personal information about yourself such as your name and phone number. You can use a fake name or no name if you want.