ASSISTING A FRIEND
Being a friend to a victim is one of the most challenging things a friend will ever have to encounter. Here are a few tips that one must remember as a friend of the victim.
First off, always validate your friendís feelings even if you donít understand them. What he/she needs is someone who will listen to them during this difficult period. They need to know that they can rely on their friend to always understand them, even if they donít understand themselves. Although one of your first reactions may be to bad-mouth the partner of your friend, be cautious when you do that. This may cause a reaction which will be the exact opposite of what you intended it to be and it can push your friend away from you. Remember that even in abusive relationships, itís not always bad. Instead of bad mouthing, try to detect the unhealthy aspects of their relationship.
Do not place blame on the abuser (and never on the victim), but try to point out that excessive phone calls, for example, is not a sign of love but instead it is really obsessive behavior. Always accept and believe what the victim tells you at all times. Remind your friend that at this time that you want to be there for them and that you only want to help, not judge. Remember that this time is a critical aspect in your friendship and the victim may make you swear that you will never tell any one anything.
Keeping your friendís trust is important, but if you believe that they are in danger then tell someone who you know will help. Whether that is a teacher, religious leader or parent, you must tell another adult so your friend can get help. Their safety is what is most important and you are not "ratting out" your friend but instead you are saving them.
If for any reason you feel that you can no longer take the information that is being given to you, then try asking for help from a trusted adult. Another tip is to never force your friend to do anything they are not comfortable with or ready to do yet. Although you want your friend to stay away from the abuser, telling them to break up with their partner will not work. Try suggesting that the two of you spend more time with each other for this may help them remember how care free their life used to be with friends who love them.
Finally, never leave your friend alone or not take them seriously. Dating violence is a very serious problem and is affecting teens everywhere. It doesnít take much to know how to be a friend; however it does take a brave person to help a friend in need. Thank you.