- CALL 911 if you are in immediate danger. Cell phones are always able to dial 911 even if service has been cancelled, as long as the battery is charged.
- CARRY A CELL PHONE or change for a pay phone at all times. Have important phone numbers (family, friends, and domestic violence hotlines) with you. Disguise hotline numbers so the abusive person doesn't know what the numbers are about.
- CREATE A STORY or an excuse so you can leave a situation quickly if you feel worried about your safety.
- DEVELOP A CODE WORD or signal with your family and friends to alert them of when you are in danger. Ask them to notify the police of your location if you use the code word.
- Although talking about your relationship can be scary or uncomfortable, TELL AS MANY PEOPLE AS YOU CAN (family, friend, school staff or co-workers) about the abuse to help keep you safe. If needed, get a restraining order for your protection.
- NOTIFY police, your school, your work, or other places that you spend time that the order exists. Keep a copy with you at all times in case the order is violated.
TAKE A DEEP BREATH…
Talking to someone in an abusive relationship is hard...when someone you know is in an abusive relationship, you may be unsure of what you can do or say. Before you do anything, take a deep breath.
Think about your relationship with the person, because that will determine how you might approach the person and what to say. Use good judgment and compassion in deciding what approach to take.
Think about where and when it will be safe for your friend to talk to you.
Think about how your friend may react. You may have tried this before. He or she may deny the abuse, be angry with you, tell you to mind your own business or cry.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF...
It is normal to feel as if you are on an emotional roller coaster in these situations. While being a source of support can make a huge difference, knowing that you can only do so much is important as well. These are decisions your friend has to make. Give yourself permission to let go if you need to or find people who can support you too!
TAKE A STEP...
ASK respectful questions that let your friend know you have suspicions; questions that give permission to talk; questions that call for specific answers.
LISTEN without judgement or shock. Your response will determine whether or not your friend continues to confide in you. Affirm feelings, even if you don't understand them. Be supportive without giving advice. A judgmental, blaming, or confrontational "you should" approach isn't helpful. It's not hard to say, "Just dump the jerk!"...but how will your friend feel about talking to you if the relationship continues?
RECOGNIZE that your friend may minimize or deny what is going on. Gently address what you see and hear without making your friend feel ashamed. Talk about how jealousy and possessiveness are not love.
CHALLENGE the abusive behavior. Inquire about the cycle or pattern in their relationship. Say very clearly that, despite what your friend has been told, he or she is not to blame for the violence: The abuser is responsible.
CONNECT your friend with knowledgeable adults or community resources. Develop a safety plan. Find others whom you know that can help. Talk to your friend about telling his or her parents or another trusted adult. Decide if you need to let someone else know what's going on.
BE THERE. Be patient. Even though you may be so upset about the situation, or sick of dealing with it, or feel as if you want to say "I told you so!" - hang in there. It takes time and courage to end a relationship. Remember, this is a significant decision, and it is difficult. Your friend may feel as though he or she really needs to stick it out and help his/her partner. Perhaps the two of them have talked about a long-term relationship together. There can be many mixed messages from the person involved in the abusive relationship. Sometimes these messages may confuse you. He or she is frightened or hurt by what is going on, but at the same time wants the security of the relationship.
SUPPORT his or her strengths! Having a supportive person right now is key. The abuser may not like it, but you can be there for your friend.