Question: Dear Luise: I have a friend I would like to help but frankly I don’t know where to begin or if it is even wise. It’s clear to me that she is being abused, and I am referring to physical abuse here, by her husband. She never says so. I have just seen too much evidence to not know what is going on. What should I do, if anything? Thank you for caring. Lisa R.
Answer: Dear Lisa: First and foremost it’s important for you to know that I am not knowledgeable on this subject. From what you have written, it sounds to me like your friend thinks she is fooling you. The only advice I can offer is pretty generic and centers around your being there for her. I may be wrong but I think that she is probably also fooling herself in some way, to stay in such a dangerous situation.
What you can do is to let her know that you are aware that she needs help and that you are very willing to back her up if and when she is ready to address it. That’s the crux of the problem, her silence…her fear and/or embarrassment and the denial that goes with it. Those are all things that you can’t do anything about. She needs an advocate and even though you don’t have the knowledge to be that, you can help her find one.
To become better informed about this terrible problem, go to the web and give it some serious study. There are books you can read and steps that you can take, I’m sure. Just don’t be heavy-handed about it. By that I mean, I don’t think it would be wise for you report it officially or unofficially to a third party.
It may be of great value for your friend to know that you are there for her and she’s no longer alone with her “secret”. However, she may patently deny that she is the victim of abuse. Be ready for that possibility. In that case, it will be pretty hard for you to help her.
If all of your efforts fail, you can still make it very clear to her that your offer to be there for her stands and extends into the future, indefinitely. That alone may be something that matters in the long run. Blessings, Luise