If there is one piece of advice I can tell friends of victims, it is NOT to force the victim to end the relationship. Your trying to push a break up will only push you further away… I promise.
When I was in an abusive relationship, that boy became a huge part of my life. I had friends that did not understand that- and, especially after the first physical incident, tried to push me to break up with him. Going back to the cycle of violence, it is very difficult to get out of this kind of relationship. One friend even went as far as to say she would not speak with me unless I broke up with him… this friend and I are no longer as close as we used to be.
Friends and family members do not understand the difficulty. It seems so simple to just end the relationship, but it’s not. My BEST piece of advice for you is to just support your friend or family member in what you believe to be an unhealthy situation. Let them know that you are there for them, and that you will listen without judging. Let the victim talk to you and speak out loud, and vent about what’s going on in the relationship.
Here’s an example:
Last year, there was a girl on my rowing team that was clearly in a controlling relationship. Her boyfriend was always calling and texting her, and would never let her go out with friends (especially if there were going to be boys there). One weekend we traveled to Washington for a race, and a few members of the team were planning to meet at the hotel hot tub and relax a little before the race the next day. When her boyfriend found out there were going to be boys in the hot tub, he freaked out and started screaming at her, and made her feel terrible. The night consisted of her crying and trying to get him to calm down; she never made it to the hot tub.
Some of the other girls on our team went up to her, once she finally hung up the phone, and told her how ridiculous it was that she would put up with that sort of behavior. He was always making her feel bad, and she needed to stand up for herself. They tried to push her to break up with him, and get her to realize what they saw.
I made sure to take a step back, and not get involved at that point. She pushed those girls away, and wouldn’t talk to them for the rest of the weekend. When she was alone I confronted her and told her that in high school I was in an abusive relationship. I told her I would love to share my story with her. I didn’t talk about what was going on in her relationship; I kept it about me.
Over the summer they broke up, and I was the first person to hear about it. She told me that she really appreciated me not trying to push her to do something that she wasn’t ready for. Hearing my story helped her realize that she did deserve better, and soon after she started dating a boy who treated her right, like a princess.
They are still together and happier than ever.
I cannot stress enough that pushing someone to do something they are not ready for is not a good idea. Support your friend or family member, and let him or her know you are there… when he or she wants to talk.
I hate to compare it to something so juvenile, but if you push someone to ride a bike before they are ready, and they fall over it will only take at least twice as long for them to get back on. No one wants to be pushed to do something they are not ready for, so keep that in mind.
You can always give them the helpline number, so they can use it whenever they are ready.
The Teen Dating Violence Helpline 1 (866) 331-9474
Relationship Violence. Break the Silence. Be Part of the Solution.
You Can Make a Difference, You Can Save Lives.