If you have a friend in a offensive relationship you might feel anxious, hopeless, and, above all, helpless. Whether it's a physical, emotional, economic or multi-category violence between partners, you may be at a loss.
The best ways to show yourself to your friend depend on your choice of relationship, the nature of the abuse, and the phase in which your friend is on his journey. "There is no cookie cutter approach," says Arlene Vassell, vice president of programs, prevention and social change at the National Domestic Violence Resource Center (NDVRC). "Most of the time, you're trying to build trust," Vassell explains. "Your goal as a friend is to create a space in which someone opens up for you and supports and strengthens you." Here, domestic violence counselors and a survivor share what you can say to get closer to that goal and avoid some feelings about it.
Here are some statements you should try:
1. "I'm here for you, no matter what you choose."
This expresses your intention to be a trusted, non-judgmental ally whose love and support does not depend on your friend making certain choices. "Show yourself as a friend, whether you go or not," says Vassell. It's really about showing and not just telling. "Continue to be supportive and stay connected and show yourself and invite them," says Vassell.
. 2 "How does it feel when your partner makes XYZ?"
People in Abusive Relationships often find it hard to trust their inner voice. Your friend's abuser may have caused her to invalidate her gut instinct. Jeanne King, Ph.D., founding director of Partners In Prevention (19459024), a 501 (c) 3 that teaches doctors and nurses how to intervene and recognize when their patients are being abused, says SELF. Instead of telling your friends what to do, as their offender does, "guide them to hear their own inner voice," says King. "They want to help them find the right thing for themselves."
One way to do this is to ask thoughtful questions about your friend's feelings, desires, and needs regarding the relationship. Some Questions You May Ask on the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) Website Loveisrespect : How is it when you both have a fight? How do you wish things would be different between you two? When was the last time you felt really safe and happy with this person?
Answer what your friend says by affirming his feelings, King suggests. You can try something like "That sounds really difficult" or "That must hurt you". Remember, your friend may not be ready to open, and that's fine. If you drop the questions there, you can make your friend think.
Emily R., 39, was in an emotionally and physically abusive relationship for about six years. She wonders if it would have been helpful to have such conversations with her closest friends, she tells SELF. "I do not blame them for not being [asking these questions]," says Emily. "I did not know what to say."
. 3 "Thank you for sharing that with me. That must have been hard. "
If your friend has told you about Abuse they'll experience it – no matter who started the conversation and whether they ask for your help or not – nothing easy. "Disclosure is often one of the toughest things a survivor has to deal with," explains Vassell. "You've decided to share your most personal, painful and painful experiences with you, it's a big step, as a friend you have to recognize that."
4 "You do not have to tell me anything you do not want."  It can be hard to share even a little bit, assure your friend that he only has to tell you how much he feels comfortable, and you can take this opportunity to thank your friend for resources such as the Refer to National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233), which is staffed by trained lawyers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.This type of resource not only provides help in emergency situations, but also can helping your friends feel more comfortable sharing "It's so important [for] that your friend has a chance to talk freely," Vassell explains.
5 "I'm worried about your safety. "
" As soon as you begin to see physical violence the chances rise [of serious injury or death]"emphasizes King. "If it happens, it can happen again and each time it can escalate in terms of consequences."
If there are clear indications that your friend has experienced (or has been informed about) physical abuse, it is generally okay to express calmly and objectively that you care about them, that what is going on , is not normal and that you believe that they are in danger.
You can show this concern without judgment or demand. Consider whether you want to try something in the way your partner treats you. They are important to me and I am worried that you are in a dangerous situation, "says Vassell.
. 6 "Can we work on a security plan just in case?"
A security plan is a practical tool that outlines how someone in an abusive relationship provides physical, emotional and economic security in an emergency. NDVH . "It's a tool created before the crisis so the person knows what to do when it gets really bad," explains Vassell.
Security plans are tailored to the individual and should take into account different scenarios that may arise while they are still in the relationship while they are planning to go out and after they leave. A Few Essential Questions A Safety Plan Should Answer: Who will your friend contact (and how) when he is in danger? Where will they go when they leave? As the NDVH emphasizes, these things may seem obvious, but it's worth talking about, as stressful situations can make it difficult to think clearly.
Although your friend should be the one to lead the planning, you can offer to help. Ask your friend, "If things escalate, what do you want me to do?" Asks Vassell. For example, is there an emergency code word that you can write to when in danger and can not make a call? Can you keep some cash for her?
If your friend does not want to include you, you can still refer them to resources. You may call NDVH for assistance in the field National Network for the Termination of Domestic Violence or for information on safety planning in various circumstances online (eg during pregnancy or pregnancy) with children).  7. "Can I Help You Find a Lawyer or Therapist?"
If your friend is in immediate danger, you may need to call the emergency number or the National Domestic Violence Hotline to initiate a crisis intervention.
If your friend does not need emergency relief right now. It can still be helpful to help him find a counselor, says King. There are therapists specializing in this area and social workers in local domestic abusive shelters and agencies who are also trained in this type of counseling.
For Emily, it was about six months of counseling what she needed to find her inner voice. Make a decision and plan to leave their abusive relationship.
Here are some things you should never say:
1. "You have to go."
The unfortunate reality is that walking is not always a practical or even safe decision, says Vassell.
There are many different reasons why people stay with their abusers . Some are emotional, such as shame, the desire to keep their family together, religious beliefs or love. "They [may] hope that the abuse ceases, or perhaps believes that it can change [their partner]," says Vassell.
There are also practical reasons why someone feels compelled to stay, such as financial dependency or health insurance, says Vassell. Another is the fear of violence which unfortunately has validity. "Abuse has to do with power and control, and when [the abuser] feels like losing control, the violence can escalate." "They may think that you will only support them if they decide to leave, and they may begin to avoid you," Vassell explains.
A number of friends told Emily to leave her partner, but for several reasons she was not ready at the time. She was a young mother who had no job and was anxious to keep her family together. "It felt like [my friends] missed the point," she says. "I was not in a place to go easy, it was not realistic."
2. "If I were you …"
This depiction is often dismissive and judgmental for a more complex situation than you can understand, says Vassell, even if you are a survivor of domestic violence. "You can not judge because you do not know everything that is going on," says King.
Emily, for example, was embarrassed by her lack of economic independence. "I felt really stupid and ashamed to tell people I literally have no way to feed myself if I go," she says. She also dealt with Depression and a low self-esteem that made the idea of going impossible seemed impossible.
. 3 "Your partner is such an idiot."
The insult (or even legitimate criticism) of your friend's abuser will not persuade him to leave. In fact, it is more likely that there will be a distance between the two of you. "If that person decides to stay, they may decide that you are not someone they want to talk to because they believe you will judge them," Vassell explains. This violates the ultimate goal of remaining a safe person who can entrust your girlfriend.
This was the case for Emily. "When I was told what an asshole was when I knew I needed to be ashamed to entrust myself [those friends]," she says. "I felt like they were mad at me because they stayed with him for so long and came back a few times [of] so it was better to just stop telling them about it."
You can not decide what your friend does. But you can be there.
"Often we get into the mindset that we want to save the individual," says Vassell. "It's really hard to watch someone in an abusive situation and not be able to fix it."
But in truth, you can only provide loving support and resources, not control the outcome. "The decision to go is in the hands of this friend when he is ready," says Vassell. "You have to take the next step for yourself."
Looking back, Emily wishes she had got off earlier, but also believes that no one could have done it. "It had to be my decision and I had to be ready. It took a long time and it was really, really hard, "she says. "But I finally found the strength and made it."
And take care.
It is important to accept the limits of your ability to help a friend in such a situation to protect your own. Mental Health . "It's really hard to watch someone in an abusive situation and not be able to fix it," Vassell says, especially when, as is often the case, this situation continues for a long time. This can be emotionally exhausting (especially if you are dealing with something like Anxiety or Depression ) and possibly triggering it (for example, if you have dealt with abuse in your past).
If you feel that everything is more than you can do right now, it's okay to set personal boundaries, says King. Try this in combination with the suggestion to visit a consultant. They may have something like "I want to be there for you, but I do not think I have the emotional resources or the expertise to give you the support you really need and deserve." Can I help you find someone who does this?
If you believe this is helpful, you should consult with your own psychologist or home abuse counselor, who can help you navigate your situation and process your feelings. Also the relatives of a person who has to deal with an abusive relationship need support.