If they have children
- Without making them feel like a ‘bad parent’, 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 and contact with that person. Often children are used as ‘blackmail’ by the abuser in order to control their partner, even after a relationship has ended.
- 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 tread 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.
- If the child of a friend speaks up about violence and abuse at home, they are 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 it. You can only advise them on how to cope the best with the everyday trauma and how to support the children through it.
The NSPCC (UK) host message boards where children and young people share their experiences about their lives and can get support. Other countries may do the same. These forums allow young people to speak freely about what's happening and read about other children’s experiences to learn from others facing similar situations.
“ …. What? Right! I’m calling my cousin and we’ll go sort them out!”
“… No way! Really?! They seem so sweet!”
“… Oh my gosh, you are usually so tough!”
“… You’ve been stupid.”
“… And you didn’t do anything?”
“… What were you thinking?”
“… I wouldn’t have done that.”
Above all: 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!