It is a terribly helpless feeling to know that someone you love it being abused. And it you’re honest with yourself it is draining and exhausting to be around. That’s normal. It’s horrible but those are the facts. I have put together some practical tips to help you get through and be a good shoulder for your loved one who needs you now more than ever.
It’s not about what you want.
Like it or not, you might 100% right that your loved one is in a toxic, unhealthy and abusive relationship. But trying to convince them will likely only make them defensive and shut them down. The best thing you can do is give them a patient ear. You never have to tell them that it is ok to be hit, called names manipulated, etc. In fact, you can affirm that you don’t think they deserve that. Try to avoid telling them to leave, call their partner names, use labels or end the relationship.
What are the options?
If you can, look for resources. What are the local laws and resources available? What can you offer? Perhaps your friend and his/her kids can stay with you for a period of time. If that is not an option or would be the first place the abuser would look, you can store important documents and/or a go bag for your loved one. (A ‘go bag’ is some clothes, documents like IDs and other basic necessities that would making leaving a real possibility.) Understanding why your loved one feels trapped can help you support them while they look for solutions. Why do they feel trapped? Is it money? Is it safety? Asking and listening can really help them feel heard, safe and understood. When possible don’t jump into the solutions. Ask them if they want help with the factors that make them feel stuck and tell them what you have found in your research.
It is not all on you.
We all have limits and it is ok for you to take care of yourself when you need to. Consider that this could be a marathon, not a sprint. If you need a night off, take it. It is not your job to save anyone.
Stay in the fight, if you can….
This one is the biggest and most difficult. If you can, keep the lines of communication between you and your loved one. One of the main reasons people stay in abusive relationships is their abuser isolates them from friends and family. It may even be necessary to play nice with the person who is hurting someone you love dearly in order to keep those lines of communication open. This one is a difficult pill to swallow but if you are able to do it, it could be what enables them to leave when your loved on is ready.
Keep in mind that there is research to suggest that women try to leave 7-8 times before they are successful. This is a big, scary and painful undertaking. You will have moments when you want to give up, when you think there is nothing you can do. Probably the best and only thing you can do is keep reminding your loved one that you love them and you have no intention of giving up on their health and happiness.
No one deserves to be abused. If you or someone you know is being assaulted by a partner or family member you can call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 800.799.7233 or visit their website. Keep in mind that your online use can be monitored so consider using a different computer or phone to look up local resources.
As always, I’m here. If you are ready to live your best life, call me and let’s get started!