This post comes as a response to recent events within the life of a close friend of mine. I haven’t known her that long but, from the initial online conversations, I felt as though something was ‘off’ with her relationship and that appears to match the criteria for Emotional Abuse. Six months later, I learned on one frightful night that the abuse was also physical. Yet, through fear and insecurity (I presume), she was back under his fist less than 48 hours after finding the strength to escape.
On Friday night, I received a message out of the blue, where she admitted that she was in an abusive relationship and asked for my help. She didn’t say whether anything had happened that night and there were long delays between other replies. I naturally offered to help, I told her I wasn’t far away and, although she suggested that she ‘might’ need an escape, well, she stayed there for the night and I’ve barely heard from her since.
That’s a brief synopsis of the situation I’m witnessing. In this post, I’d like to share some of my thoughts and concerns over helping a friend through and out of such a situation.
You only have to enter search terms such as “domestic abuse” in to Google before you’re inundated with a number of websites offering free advice and suggestions on what to do and how to help. Whether you’re in that situation yourself, whether you know of someone or, even if you’re ready to admit that you’re the one committing the crime; there’s plenty of free information to read in to. So, I don’t really want to go in to repeating all of that here. There are event charities (like Refuge) available to help people in an abusive situation. A victim needs to make the effort to contact them but they can help and, as all forms of violence are punishable by law, the police take such matters very seriously.
My friend has trusted and confided within me for as long as I’ve known her. That’s not to imply that she’s told me everything; more so that she comes to me and perhaps no-one else.
To me though, admitting to it is the first step towards getting out and heading for higher ground. If she can do that much, I believe she has the strength within her to make further progress. But, she’s still blaming herself for the way he reacts; as if he’s reacting to “her own ‘flaws”… A common issue for sufferers of abuse, as I understand; feeling unnecessary guilt and even worthy of the violence.
How do I help her the next time he raises his fist in anger, or throws her to the floor? What can I do when she doesn’t have the strength to walk out on her own, or even let me in to help?
My first thought is to call the police, as I know the address and the names of both involved. But, would doing that set him off on a panicked rage? How would she react, with so much fear and a tendency to self-harm following her partner’s mistreatment? It could be as bad as me turning up and kicking the door in.
I’d like to think that she’ll have the strength to make that call herself, with my advice. I will (because it will happen again) also advise her to try and lock or barricade herself within her room, at least until some form help can arrive and to protect herself in the mean time.
Should I contact her friends? Family? These people I’ve never met?? Loved ones who may be clueless to the true nature of the relationship?
There are risks associated with this, from what I can see. Random messages from a stranger with shocking news about someone they love and care about… Plus, Facebook messages from non-friends now arrive in the ‘Other‘ folder (as opposed to your ‘Inbox’) and without a notification. So, they could go unread for some time. There’s a chance it could boost her confidence if all went well and she realised an increase of mutual support though.
I don’t feel as though the time is right to go down that road just yet. But neither do I believe as though I can do all of this on my own, as much as I may want to.
It’s important for me to remind myself that I cannot make any decisions for her. I cannot offer too much advice or tell her what to do – she’s suffered with more than enough of that already! But I will be there every step of the way. I will always be there for support and to listen. I can be patient and will wait to hear from her again. I can support her and I can compliment her for the strength she has already shown. For the last few months, all I’ve been trying to do is to help her to see the true value of her own self-worth and the fact that she does deserve so much better than this. It all takes time but I’ll never give up on her.
If you’ve found this post and you’re in immediate danger yourself, please call the police! Physical abuse is a crime and the police will treat all matters as such. They can protect you and you can take that first step towards happier and healthier future.
For general enquiries, concerns and advice (whether you’re suffering directly or not), there is a freephone number for the UK…
Freephone 24-hour UK National Domestic Hotline – 0808 2000 247
I’m sorry to reveal that I’ve tried calling that number for two consecutive evenings now, without anyone picking up at the other end. Please don’t let that discourage you from making your own phone call. You don’t have to suffer alone. There are people who can help you.
I was hoping for some answers to the two questions I’ve raised above. Now, dear reader, I open the floor to you and welcome your response. Please feel free to share and reblog this post if you someone you know and care about is in a dangerous situation with the risk of violence.
- A view of violence: Survivors share how they overcame abusive relationships (onlineathens.com)
- Emotional Abuse (toddlohenry.com)
- Domestic Abuse… Why Does She (or He) Stay ? (Once More, A Bit Personal…) (truthfultragedy.wordpress.com)
- Domestic Violence, My story (beverleyvodoskie.wordpress.com)
- Emotional Abuser (sbstardust3.wordpress.com)
- Signs Of Emotional Abuse In Relationships (loveashley.net)
- Shoulder Punch (littleninjabunny.wordpress.com)
- Denial (uneducatedjourney.com)