Behind The Scenes: Can I Help My Friend?

Facebook message from LeAnne:

"Hi! I'm wondering if you have any suggestions and/or resources for me... I have a friend in an abusive relationship... still... and I'm walking the fine line between supporting her and not alienating her... as she's chosen to still be with him at this point."

Hi Leanne, You're a good friend for reaching out to determine how best to support your friend. It's not an easy spot to be in!

It sounds as if you both know she's in an abusive relationship but she's electing to stay there. Is that right? That's understandable. Love is one reason people stay in an abusive relationship but there are many other reasons. Here are a few: finances, isolation, loneliness, religious beliefs, familiarity and fear.

The best thing you can do is to offer your friendship to her non-judgmentally and, if you can, unconditionally. When you do that, you allow her the space to circle back to you for help/support when SHE is ready. Telling her something like "whatever you decide, whenever, I'll be there," gives her the option to make her own choices. This is really important in an abusive relationship where there is a lot of control but few real choices. When she does circle back to you, be prepared to offer a resource to her. Just one relevant something (an attorney referral, free support group, 24 hr crisis line number) so as not to overwhelm her. Lots of choices feel scary for those who haven't been allowed to make many choices. Thanks for being a good friend.