If they have children
Without making them feel like a ‘bad mother’, remind them that a violent parent harms the welfare of children. If your friend has children, then it is a lot harder to end an abusive relationship. Often children are used as ‘blackmail’ by the abuser in order to control their partner.
Even when your friend’s partner doesn’t harm the children, they will still be affected by living in a violent home. There is a very fine line to thread between not making your friend feel guilty and keeping them aware of the harmful effects on children of being in a violent home. When children are involved, it is even more important for you to help your friend get out of the violent relationship. Help them understand that leaving a violent partner does not deprive children of a parent. Instead, it saves them from living in a climate of fear and anxiety, and from potentially repeating the cycle in their own lives.
If the child of a friend speaks up about violence and abuse at home, he or she is unlikely to be lying. Children might have less inhibition to talk about the abuse happening at home. Listen to them carefully!
Depending on the law of their country (e.g. child custody) and their own situation, they might want to remain with the abuser and there is nothing you can do about. You can only advise them on how to cope the best with the everyday trauma and how to shield the children from it.
- “ …. What? Right! I’m calling my cousin and we’ll go sort them out!”
- “… No way! Really?! They seem so sweet!”
- “… Oh my gosh, usually you are so tough!”
- “… You’ve been stupid.”
- “… And you didn’t do anything?”
- “… What were you thinking?”
- “… I wouldn’t have done that.”_
Do not speak about your friend and their situation with anyone else without your friend’s consent. Even if you think you are just trying to help, it is very important to respect their privacy. Your friend needs to be able to trust you fully!