What Can I Do For A Friend I Am Concerned About?
Intimate partner violence hurts everyone – There is no excuse for abuse.
Intimate partner violence involves everyone, not just the person who is actually being abused. As a friend, roommate, co-worker, or fellow student, you probably know someone who is being abused by an intimate partner, whether or not that person has ever talked to you about the violence. It could be you that is experiencing intimate partner violence. These are suggestions that you can do NOW to help your friend better the situation and make the choice that is best for the friend and the children.
Intimate partner violence can take many forms, including verbal and emotional abuse, threats, physical battering, sexual assault, financial control, property destruction, isolation, and stalking. It does not discriminate. Relationship abuse happens to people of every age, race, class, culture, religion, sexual orientation, educational background and socio-economic status.
Your friend may not directly tell you that her partner is abusive, but there are some signs to watch for. Use your intuition; also. If you have that “feeling” that something is wrong, you are probably right. Here are some “red flags” to watch for:
· Does your friend have repeated bruises, broken bones, or other injuries that reportedly result from “accidents”?
· Does your friend appear anxious, depressed, withdrawn, or reluctant to talk?
· Does your friend have a partner who criticizes her or him in front of you, making remarks that make you feel uncomfortable when you’re around the two of them?
· Does your friend make excuses for the abusive partner’s behavior?
· Does your friend refuse invitations because the abusive partner doesn’t approve?
· Does your friend often wear inappropriate clothing for the weather conditions? This may mean wearing long sleeves or turtlenecks in the summer to cover up bruises.
When someone you care about is trapped in the cycle of violence: Listen – really listen. Often, a victim will down-play the problems with their partner. They may say “He has a really bad temper” instead of “He beat me up last night.” Believe your friend. Even when victims talk about what is really happening, many times they are not believed because the abuser is so well thought of in the family and the community.
Support your friend. You can help with a safe place to stay, money, information, or childcare.
Be patient. Leaving an abuser can be dangerous. The victim must decide when it is safe. Don’t give up! Please understand that in most cases the violence does increase when victims tell their partners that they are leaving. Seventy-nine percent of spousal abuse is committed by men after the woman leaves.
Tell your friend again and again: “You can get help. You don’t deserve this. It’s not your fault. I’m here for you.”
Talk to them about creating a safety plan for themselves and their children for when they decide to leave. Please see the information below on creating safety plans.
Tell them about this web site. She can get information on a variety of subjects here.
Give her these phone numbers:
· Women’s Shelter Program (805) 781-6400
· Center for Alternatives to Domestic Violence, our counseling center (805) 473-6507
One thing that you can do right now with your friend and the children is help create a safety plan. We understand that it is very difficult to leave a violent partner. A safety plan will help your friend organize what she and her children will need for their escape. Even if she thinks the abuse won’t happen again, it’s very important to plan ahead about where to go and how to get there.
Call the Women’s Shelter Program at (805) 781-6400 for help with making the plan.
Let your friend know that you can be trusted.
Help your friend pack a bag with: clothes for your friend and the children, important papers (birth and shot records, photos, ID card, etc.), an extra set of keys to the car and house and a roll of quarters.
Let your friend store it at your house. Or find a place in your friend’s home to store the bag where the abusive partner will not find it.
Help your friend set up checking and saving accounts in her name only.
Don’t tell anyone else, especially the abusive partner, about the plan that you have created with your friend.
Partially adapted from the booklet, “No one deserves to be abused”