Relationships make life worth living. So when a romantic relationship turns abusive, it can be hard to accept the urgent need to move on. Love for the abusive partner, fear of the unknown, low self-esteem, and a range of other issues can conspire to keep a loved one in an abusive relationship. If someone you love is trapped in an abusive relationship, know that it is not their fault. Nothing anyone can do can fore another person to abuse them, so don’t listen to the abuser’s excuses. You also need to know that, while you cannot force someone to leave an abusive relationship, your help can increase the odds that a loved one gets out safely.
Talk to Your Loved One
Helping your loved one out of an abusive relationship begins with a simple conversation. If your loved one denies the abuse, there’s not much you can do, but letting him or her know you care is still a vital first step that may encourage him or her to leave down the road. If your loved one admits to the abuse, talk about the reasons he or she is staying, then work to address those issues. For example, if your loved one thinks the abuse is deserved, help them understand that abuse is never acceptable, even in the face of infidelity and other problem behaviors.
Don’t Confront the Abuser
It’s tempting to confront, and even threaten, the abuser. Doing so is never a good idea. It may place you in danger. Even if it doesn’t, it almost certainly endangers your loved one. Abusers are controlling people who use abuse to manage the behavior of people they claim to love. If the abuser knows that the victim has reported the behavior, he may resort to extreme measures to control her.
Design a Safety Plan
If your loved one is not yet ready to leave, that doesn’t mean you have to give up. Work with them to design a safety plan in the event of an emergency. Outline whom to call, what to do, and consider helping them pack an emergency bag so that they can quickly leave if doing so becomes necessary.
Leaving a relationship often means leaving an entire life behind—and that includes pets and a beloved home. It’s not easy. So work with your loved one to devise and implement specific strategies to make leaving more manageable. For instance, you might allow your loved one to stay with you for a few weeks, offer some financial assistance, or provide child care to your loved one. Practical, specific support is far more helpful than vague reassurances that you care.
Abuse is never the victim’s fault, but psychological issues cause some victims to stay with abuse people. Your loved one might have low self-esteem, have grown up in a family where men abused women, or truly believe that she deserves abuse. Consider encouraging your loved one to seek counselling—not with the abuser, but on her own.
If you’re struggling to find ways to help a loved one who is an abuse victim, Three Seas may be able to help you come up with effective strategies. Contact us today!