Knowing what you can do and say, that won’t alienate them, or put them in any danger, is really important. If the abuser becomes aware that you are helping them, they will do everything in their power to stop any contact between you. Unfortunately they will probably succeed, and your friend / family member will be more isolated than ever.
So what can you do? Here are some suggestions:
- Find out as much information as you can about what services they could access locally. When they are ready to get help it will speed things up if you can tell them where they can go and who they can speak to.
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Pathway have safe ways in which you can give them the number and they can keep it with them without raising suspicion. Get in touch and we will help you with this.
- If you ever have reason to suspect that they are in immediate danger then ring 999. It is better to lose a friend because they think you have interfered than to lose one forever through hesitation. If they are at risk they need someone to intervene and only the police can do that.
- If your friend or family member feels they can talk to you, then they are trusting you to help them. Just listening is very valuable. Try not to judge them or their partner. If you criticise the abuser they may feel that they have to stand up for them. This will cause friction between you. Listening is the most precious gift you can give them.
- Remember that abusive relationships are very complicated. They may be totally controlled by their partner, and until they feel secure enough they will obey every order. It may take a long time to reach that point.
- If they are asking your advice suggest that they ring a helpline, even anonymously. That is a huge first step and will help to build their confidence towards making more steps.
- Most of all, believe, listen and try to maintain your friendship. They may have no-one else to talk to. If you want to ring a helpline that will give you more idea of how you can help, please call Pathway. We will do everything we can to help. We would need to speak to the person at some point but at least we can be there for you as you try to help.