Most victims of abuse do not feel comfortable or safe disclosing what is happening in their lives. Some of them do not think that they are being abused. Here are some important things to keep in mind if a woman tells you that she is being abused.
Listen to her, but do not blame or judge her.
Tell her that it is not her fault and that she does not deserve to be abused.
Protect her confidentiality.
Let her know that she is not alone, that you care and want to help her.
Help her to identify her feelings, strengths and weaknesses.
Give clear messages including:
She did not cause the abuse.
He didn’t loose control; he is very much in control and controlling her.
Wife assault is a crime.
She can’t change the abuser’s behavior.
Safety for herself and her children is a very important issue.
Be patient. She needs time to gain strength and make her decisions.
Encourage her to make her own decisions.
Give her community resources & phone numbers, (e.g. women’s shelter crisis line).
Share information about abuse.
Assist her with safety planning. Help her to prepare one in advance or encourage her to talk with professionals about safety issues.
Understand that a woman may decide not to leave her partner or she may wait until she has the resources she needs.
Respect her decision if she chooses to return to the abuser.
Offer help (i.e. childcare, transportation, a place to stay) but do not take risks with your own safety.
Tell her to forgive him and try a little harder.
Try to talk to the abuser to straighten things out.
Tell her to stay for the sake of the children.
Suggest joint marital counseling.
Tell her what to do, when to leave, or when not to leave.
The most dangerous time for an abused woman is when she leaves or threatens to leave the abusive relationship.
Only she can make the decisions that are best for her.