Don’t wait for your abused friend to tell you about the situation. Bring the subject up yourself when the abusive partner isn’t around. Let them know you are concerned and want to help. Try not to criticise the partner or the relationship. Instead, focus on the abuse and their safety. You don’t have to know all the answers. You can help simply by listening and letting them break the silence and end the isolation.
And remember – it is not your responsibility to fix the problem.
Most importantly, don’t give up on them.
It is important to support your friend in whatever decision they are currently making about the relationship, while being clear that you feel concerned that what is happening is wrong. It’s OK to be truthful or give your opinion, but bear in mind that your friend needs to be supported rather than judged. Maintain contact, helping them explore all options on offer.
Supporting a friend in this way is a huge challenge. You don’t want to see them get hurt, but may have to watch them carry on with their partner when you think they should leave or have them arrested. As a friend, make sure you offer them something that their partner doesn’t. If their partner is constantly telling them what to do, it’s no use you doing the same.
Supporting your friend may prove frustrating: they may not do what you would wish. You may find yourself wondering why they stay or how they put up with it. It is important, however, to remember that leaving an unhealthy relationship is an extremely difficult decision to make. A partner often begs them to stay and promises to change.
Relationships are wonderful when they are healthy. Your partner is a friend, a support system, and your biggest fan. It can be hard sometimes to spot a relationship that isn’t so healthy. Here are some questions that you can ask yourself.
* Does your partner get jealous of your friendships with other boys or girls?
* Does your partner get frustrated or angry when you don’t text or call back right away?
* Does your partner ever say things that make you feel badly about yourself?
* Does your partner often ask you for money?
* Has your partner ever made you do something you really did not want to do?
* What do your friends think of your relationship?
* Do you ever feel fearful of what will happen if your partner gets angry with you?
* Has your partner ever made you feel unsafe?
If you have answered yes to some of these questions, it would be good to reach out to 1 or more of the support organisations listed in our Helpline section.
ChildLine – 0800 1111
ChildLine is the free and confidential 24 hour helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls to this number will not show up on mobile phone or landline bills.
ChildLine also offer an email and web-chat counselling service which you can access on their website: www.childline.org.uk/
National Domestic Violence Helpline – 0808 2000 247
Freephone the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge. Calls to this number will not show up on BT Landline phone bills.
Rape Crisis – 0808 802 9999
A telephone helpline service for women and girls who are survivors of rape, child sexual abuse, sexual harassment or any form of sexual violence.
Galop – 0207 704 2040
Galop is the only National LGBT Domestic Violence Helpline providing confidential support to all members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) communities, and their families and friends.