How To Help A Friend In An Emotionally Abusive RelationshipAn abusive relationship will affect 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men in their lifetime. Abuse is not always in the form of violence, in fact emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse. Recognizing you’re in an abusive relationship can be very difficult, and it can be harder still to decide you deserve more and to have the strength to walk away.
Being friends with someone in an emotionally abusive relationship can be a complicated situation to find yourself in. Having to listen to your friend as they get hurt over and over again especially when the problem is so clearly not them, can be extremely frustrating! Establishing a balance between being direct with them and telling them what you think whilst still being patient and listening to them is very difficult.
In an abusive relationship the abuser will try and gain control over their partner, this can be done through a variety of different means, outright threats, social media, humiliation and sexual coercion are just some examples. Abuse includes behavior that aims to frighten, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, or injure someone.
Emotional abuse is the hardest to spot because it is the most subtle, it begins slowly but can spiral very quickly as the confidence of the victim decreases at the same time as the level of abuse increases. The victim may suffer from feeling ‘crazy’ and have lack confidence in their ability to make decisions as they are constantly walking on eggshells around their partner. If they do something ‘right’ everything will run smoothly, but if they do something ‘wrong’ the whole day will be ruined.
How to help if you have a friend in an emotionally abusive relationship…
1. Don’t abandon them
“I can’t listen to this again… If you take him back, I’m done.” This is one of the worst things you could say to someone suffering from a toxic relationship. You think you’re finding it hard? Try being the one in the relationship!
It is frustrating to have to watch someone you love being hurt but if you abandon them and leave them isolated except for their abuser it’ll only make it harder for them to walk away.
Make your opinion known to your friend but also make sure they know you’re there for them no matter what and that they can always rely on you to listen to them without judging their decisions.
2. Don’t be too rude about their partner if they break up
Because they may get back together and if so you’d end up feeling very awkward as you try and backtrack on what you said.
Worse still your friend may tell her partner what you’ve said and you’ll become directly involved.
3. Reassure your friend they are not crazy
One of the reasons people get so trapped in emotionally abusive relationships is because the abuser makes the victim feel so low in confidence they can believe that they’re making the abuse up or over exaggerating it. The victim often feels they deserve to be punished because they did something wrong.
This confidence-bashing is done through a constant flow of comments and jibes, the abuser will be very quick to judge your friend over trivial matters and put them down with harsh abruptness.
Try and keep your friend’s confidence up, reassure them that they make good decisions, they are trustworthy and they’re not embarrassing themselves. No one deserves to be abused even if they have made mistakes in the past.
4. Make time to talk
Set up a time when you can be alone and uninterrupted to sit down with your best friend and talk. Leave your judgement at the door, ask lots of questions and really give them a chance to express what they’re feeling and experiencing.
Putting things into words is one of the best tools for learning to understand how you’re feeling and thinking, which is exactly what your friend needs.
Patience is the most important factor as the only person who can make the decision to leave the relationship is your friend. The best thing you can do is stick with them throughout and make sure they know that they can rely on you no matter what.