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How to Help a Battered Friend

Ms. Molly Foundation

The Ms. Molly Foundation was established in 1996 with the hope of providing all abused women and children with a second chance at happiness. The Foundation strives to stop the cycle of violence and to restore feelings of safety in the homes of the abused victims. Domestic violence is a growing nationwide problem, and as millions of cases are reported annually, the majority still go unreported. If you are a friend or relative of a victim of domestic abuse, here is how you can help:

  1. Listen to her. Give her your full attention. Let her know that you have heard what she has said.
  2. Believe her. Believe what she is telling you. Recognize that telling you takes a great deal of strength and courage.
  3. Understand what she is saying. Devote your efforts to understanding the thoughts, feelings, and experiences she has chosen to share with you.
  4. Validate her feelings and strength. By telling you, she has just taken a major step in dealing with her pain and her struggle. It is extremely important for you to validate both the feelings she is expressing and the strength it took to share them with you. One example might be saying, “I’m so glad you told me.”
  5. Help her devise a safety plan. It is essential to talk with her about her physical safety. An example of a way to begin this dialogue might be, “I’m concerned for your physical safety. Can we talk about how you might try to be safe?” Be careful not to blame or judge her.
  6. Help her understand that the violence is not her fault. She may feel guilty about being battered for several reasons. Our culture reinforces the ideas that 1) women determine the success or failure of their relationships, 2) women are responsible for making men happy, 3) a woman can change a man’s behavior, and 4) women are to blame if their partners choose to batter them. NONE OF THESE ARE TRUE. Help erase her guilt by saying something like, “This is not your fault” or “You have done nothing to deserve this kind of treatment.”
  7. Support her right to control her own life. Sometimes we think we know what is best for a friend. Don’t expect her to follow all of your advice. Remember that ultimately she must be the one to make decisions regarding her own life. An example of something you might say is, “I know this is a decision only you can make. Whatever you decide, remember that I’ll stand by you.”
  8. Provide helpful resource information. Encourage her to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) or find local support Link opens in a new tab. Offer to be there when she calls. Place the initial call for her if she wishes.
  9. Protect her right to confidentiality. Recognize her choice to disclose to you. Respect her right to tell whomever she chooses. It is not your place to inform others.
  10. Be patient. If it takes a while, she will need your ongoing support. Listen to her. Notice small changes as well as big ones. Be proud that you are a caring friend.

Creative Ways to Care for Victims of Domestic Violence

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