ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS. CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION, ARTICLES
Domestic Violence: How to Help a Friend
You might have sensed for a while that things weren’t right in your friend’s family.
You might also have witnessed something while you were at your friend’s house – yelling or hitting – that was a serious cause for concern. Or perhaps your friend came right out and told you about abuse in their home.
It doesn’t matter how you found out about what’s happening – what matters now is how you deal with it.
How to help a friend?
Some secrets are TOO BIG to keep
Even if your friend has sworn you to secrecy, you should always get an adult involved if someone you know is being abused or neglected. That’s because you really can’t stop what’s happening to your friend by yourself.
Can you think of someone you trust who might be able to help? Here are some ideas:
- One of your parents
- Guidance counsellor
- Sports coach
- Spiritual or faith leaders, if appropriate
What can I do?
Being there for your friend is one of the best things you can do during this tough time. It’s also important that you:
Let your friend talk about what’s going on and be a good listener. Try not to tell them what they need to do, other than to get help.
Your friend needs support, so encourage them to get it by talking to a guidance counsellor or someone else who can help. Offer to go with your friend if they feel worried about telling an adult about the abuse. You can also be there with your friend when they make a call to child protective services or to the police.
If your friend hasn’t told you anything, but you think something is wrong at home, ask them about it. You could ask about a specific incident, such as, “Your dad really grabbed you hard back there. Are you okay?” You could also just ask them how things are going at home. You might say, “I’ve noticed that you seem down and I’m worried about you. Is there anything you want to talk about?”
Don’t tell your friend that things aren’t as bad as they seem. Listen to what they have to say and believe that they are telling the truth.
Call your friend to see how they’re doing. Understand that they might not always want to talk about it. Do things that will take your friend’s mind off of their problems for a while. Little activities like going out for coffee, taking a walk, or seeing a movie can help a lot.
Remember that your friend’s family is just one part of who they are. They still need to have some fun.
Take care of yourself
Supporting a friend is hard work, so be sure to look after yourself.
How are you feeling about everything? Are you coping? You might want to talk to someone, such as a guidance counsellor or a parent.
Remember that it’s all right to take a break if the stress is getting to you. And remember that you are a good friend to care so much.
Domestic violence is a serious issue and YOU can help!