Part of the Bay Area News Group

BIG Q: Domestic Violence

By Jackie Burrell
Monday, March 17th, 2008 at 8:30 am in Advice.

?! by Dhiegaum/StockXchng It’s your turn to play advice columnist! And here’s this week’s question, inspired by Sunday’s “Childhood Matters” radio show on the effects of domestic violence on families:

“I have a friend who I think is a victim of domestic violence. I want to help, but I’m just not sure what to do, and I don’t want to offend her by asking. What would you do?”

Click “comments” to offer your advice. To see previous Q&As, check our advice archives.)

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

No Responses to “BIG Q: Domestic Violence”

  1. Kim Says:

    That is a great question — and actually not wanting to offend her gets right to the heart of it along with not ever wanting anything bad to happen to her. Saying something like this works for me “You know Carolyn, I really care about you, and I would rather be wrong, or have you mad at me than ever have anything bad happen to you. I’ve just noticed lately that you are not quite yourself and I’ve seen (and here you would note what concerns you) and I am just wondering — are you safe in your relationship?”

    The reason this is good is because it gets to the heart of things — that you are asking because you care, and you are asking if the person is safe — not if it is domestic violence because people define that differently.

    If she says she is fine, you can say something like this, “I am glad you are ok. If you are ever not ok, I want you to know I am here for you. I also hope that if you ever think I am not safe in my relationship, you would check it out with me.”

    Again –she may be offended, but wouldn’t you rather be wrong than not ask? That is really the point, and bringing that up in the question itself really takes that out of the way and puts the main focus on what matters – your concern for your friend.

    Hope this helps!

  2. yvonne Says:

    I actually just became aware of a friend who WAS being abused in her home by her husband. I was clueless – but then again, I always thought the husband was ‘off’ a little. I liked him, but he just seemed a bit ‘off’ at times. It began with verbal abuse and then escalated to physical. It wasn’t until she turned up bruised and scared that anyone helped. My friend has really struggled and gone back to him on occassion. Abuse is the most horrible crime – and yet the victim often is so damaged they blame themselves and lack the strength to walk away. Having a strong friend really matters -but even that is no guarantee. Your friend needs to know that you love her and will support her what ever she decides. You can’t force her to get the help she needs – it is such a tricky subject. Good luck!

  3. Rona Renner Says:

    I agree with Kim’s approach. She suggests a conversation that is not filled with blame and shame. The last thing a women (or man), who is a victim of domestic violence, needs is for a friend to make them feel ashamed. We all need a friend who will be honest and sensitive, when there are difficult things to discuss.
    People who experience domestic violence may withdraw from friends and relatives. They may be threatened by the offender, and also controlled as to whom they can talk to and see. It’s painful to loose a good friend, and as Yvonne says, “Abuse is horrible!”
    Also, when a child is living with domestic violence, there is a greater motivation to say something. It can be devastating for children of all ages, so it’s essential that you not stay silent, even at the risk of offending your friend. If your rejected, do your best to stay connected and in communication with your friend. Even if they don’t want to talk to you, don’t give up and go away. Keep trying to make contact.
    If you want to talk to someone about domestic violence, you can call a 24 hour Domestic Violence hot line at: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
    Getting out of a violent relationship is a process, and there are people to help you make a plan and move towards living in a safe environment.

Leave a Reply