Most people don’t like to pry into their friends’ relationships. Even if a couple you know has been having trouble, you respect their privacy. But what if you suspect that one of your friends is being dominated—or even abused—by someone who claims to love them?

Five Ways You Can Help

There are many ways to be supportive and helpful to a friend who is suffering abuse in her relationship. Here are five things you can do today if someone has told you that she is afraid of her spouse or boyfriend:

  • Listen to her story – Not only will listening make your friend feel stronger, you may also act as a witness on her behalf in court if the situation escalates.
  • Offer help, not advice – Avoid trying to help her “fix” the situation; the abuser will not change his behavior no matter what she does.
  • Keep her secret – Many women are afraid to speak out about their abuse because they are ashamed or they are afraid it will get back to the abuser. Keep your conversation in confidence until she has safely relocated.
  • Make a plan – Ask your friend specific questions about what she is going to do and where she will go, and don’t accept “I don’t know.” You can tell her it’s only a precaution for an emergency, but it is vital that she has a go-to option if the worst happens.
  • Get help – Many victims are afraid to research their situation because they are being watched closely. You can collect names and phone numbers on her behalf and find safe ways to transmit them to her.

The first action you must take is to get your friend away from the abuser and in a safe place where she can regain control. If you are ready to get legal protection from an abusive situation, click the contact link on this page to let us know how we can get in touch with you.

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington