A True Friend

Tips for Being a Friend of a Victim of Domestic Violence

The news is filled with bizarre and tragic stories.  However, the story of Schakina Perkins-Moody shocked me to the core.  She was fatally shot by her boyfriend, who later turned the gun on himself when the police arrived.  Schakina Perkins-Moody was waiting for the perfect time to leave her abusive boyfriend but a simple argument lead to her death.

Schakina Perkins-Moody story is like many victims of domestic violence.  The warning signs of blacken-eyes, alienation from one’s family, bruises and controlling behaviors are often overlooked or thought as “he just cares about you.”  However, once a woman is entangled in the horrific web of domestic violence, it is often difficult for her to escape.  As women it is our duty to support and uplift each other.  So here are five tips for being a friend to someone in a domestic violence relationship:

1.     Do Not Judge.  Do not judge her and do not criticize her for not leaving the relationship.  There are many things you may not know about their relationship.  So be supportive, non-judgmental and discrete about what she tells you. You may be the only person she can confine to.

2.     Do Not Give Up on Her.  You may have to ask your friend multiple times before she admits that her husband or boyfriend is abusive.  So when you approach her about your concerns do not be condemning, but re-assure her that she does not need to be ashamed, embarrassed and that it is not her fault.  Re-assure her that her secret is safe with you and that you are there to support her, as she needs.

3.     Create a Code Word.  If and once your friend confines in you about the abusive situation, create a code word that she can use when she needs help.  The code word should be something covert; such as “Did you get the blue eye shadow today” or “My pot roast was delicious.”  It should be something that if she says it around her abusive significant other, he will not suspect she is sending you an alarm.

4.     Document.  Document the bruises, blacken-eyes, broken bones and etc.  Often times, prosecutors need proof that the abuse was occurring.  Documentation can be that proof.  You may have to keep this log for your friend, especially if she is living with her abusive partner.  The documentation can be vital in putting the abusive partner away for a substantial amount of time.

5.     Be Careful.  Again, there are many things you will not know about your friend’s relationship.  Abusers often separate their victims from their family and friends, so they will not have an escape plan or support.  Call the police immediately if you witness the violence.  Also, recognize you will be walking on a tight rope with your friend, you want to encourage her to leave but you do not want to pushy or judgmental.  So just make sure you are ensuring your own safety and your relationship ties.

Violence against women needs to stop!  If you are or know someone who is in a domestic violence relationship contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.  Do Not Wait Until It Is Too Late To Say Something. 

What Other Tips Do You Have For Being A Friend To Someone In A Domestic Violence Relationship?

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