I’m a member of a local Facebook “For Sale, Wanted or Trade” group. Recently, someone posted that they are concerned about a friend, who they believe is being abused. They asked for advice about what to do.
I was struck by how many people said, “There’s nothing you can do; your friend will have to realize it for herself.” While there is some truth to that, I also think there are some really, really important things that friends can and should do. Even though you can’t rescue your friend from a bad situation, you can:
- Stay connected as much as you can (in person, text, social media).
- Continue inviting them to things. It’s harder for your friend’s partner to be abusive when there are witnesses.
- Check out these tools for talking with folks about their relationship (whether you think they are being hurt or are the one who’s doing harm).
- Remember that it takes time for most people to figure out if their relationship is not working. And even more time to figure out what they want to do about that. Most folks will try different things to see if the relationship can be saved before deciding to end it.
- Know that leaving an abusive relationship doesn’t necessarily mean the abuse will end. In some cases, the abuse escalates. If your friend is being abused, encourage her to talk with an advocate at her local domestic violence advocacy program. Advocates will talk to her about how to stay as safe as possible whether she plans to stay or leave.
- Listen to what your friend says she wants, and help her figure out how to do that. Her abusive partner is trying to control her, so resist the urge to tell her what to do.
- Take care of yourself. It’s hard to watch a loved one be mistreated!
You’ve probably seen the “See something, say something” signs on the bus or at the airport. It’s about preventing terrorism, of course, but the sad reality for women in this country is that their biggest risk doesn’t look like an oddly placed backpack at a bus stop.
Thankfully, some women hitting happy hour in Santa Monica recently did see something and said something. They witnessed a man slip something into a woman’s drink when she was in the bathroom. One of the witnesses promptly went to warn her. She was stunned but glad to know. When they asked how well she knew the guy (expecting a ‘we-just-met’ scenario), the woman said, “He’s one of my best friends.”
HE’S ONE OF HER BEST FRIENDS.
This, my friends, is where we need to open our eyes. With so much fearmongering out there about strangers in the bathroom, this story brings us back to the actual problem. Who’s committing rape? People we know.
This guy broke several of these rape prevention tips, but the quick thinking ladies-who-happy-hour and the wait staff acted swiftly and decisively and the guy was arrested before he left the restaurant. Kudos to everyone who chose not to ignore or second guess what was happening. Thank you for believing that this was possible and that you could and should do something about it!
I want a world where it wouldn’t even cross someone’s mind to drug their friend. But until that happens, let’s do what the fine folks in Santa Monica did: See something, say something.
Some news stories that caught our eye this week:
- Massachusetts has started monitoring high-risk abusers and intervening early and often if they continue to stalk or harass.
- One of our own talks to Q13 about the number of domestic violence crimes increasing in Seattle.
- When deciding whether someone has a history of violence, acts of domestic violence are often ignored.