If you think your friend is being abused by their partner, but they haven’t said so themselves, there are still some things you can do.
From Lundy Bancroft’s Why Does He Do That? (free PDF):
- Tell them that you don’t like the way they are being treated and that you don’t think they deserve it
- Tell them you love them and that you think they are a good person
- Ask them to read this book, or one of the books listed in the back
- Ask them if they would be willing to make plans with you for ways to respond to specific situations. For example, if they’d agree to call you next time their partner started to yell at them. Offer to pay for a night in a hotel the next time their partner gets scary. Ask them if they can stay with you for a bit and clear their head. Brainstorm other ideas with them.
- If you ever think they’re in immediate danger, call the police.
- Call and write often, even if they never seem to respond (unless they ask you not to, which may indicate their partner is punishing them for communicating with others).
- Treat them consistently well. They’ll feel the difference between what you do and what their partner does.
- Encourage them to call a program for abused partners, “just to talk.” They can find support, reality checks, and room to vent and describe what’s happening to them.
According to the same book, if you know that they are being abused because they’ve talked to you about it, you need to be the opposite of the abuser. You need to:
-support all the decisions they make, even ones you don’t like or don’t think you wouldn’t do (like not breaking up with their partner)
- give them resources like the above book BUT remember that they know their situation best, don’t act like you or anyone else knows better than they do
- don’t talk down to them or act like you would never be in this situation
- if they have kids, assume that they are a competent parent
- don’t pressure them, just make suggestions. Do the opposite (not just say the opposite) of what the abuser does and they will notice the difference