Which Friends Can You Turn to for Support?
In my last blog, I talked about what you should do if you think you are being abused. One of the things I suggested was finding some friends or family who could be a support to you.
One of the best methods abusers have for continuing their bad behavior is to isolate their victims. Abuse thrives in secret. Abusers will resort to all types of threats and mind games to prevent their victims from telling anyone close to them what is happening at home. Their children are taught to keep this secret, as well. Therefore, one of the best ways to fight abuse is to reveal the secret to safe people you can trust, and to get as much support from friends and family as you can. Many therapists say, “We are as sick as we are secret”.
This doesn’t mean that you should tell your story to every person you meet; it is good to use discernment. But it is wise to find friends and family members that will be supportive of you during this difficult time.
Not every friend and family member will be a good support for you. Many will insist on telling you what to do, which is not what you need right now. After all, you already have a person at home telling you what to do, don’t you? People that think they know what is best for you may fall into one of two camps:
They will say that you should stay in the marriage no matter what; or
They will say that you should get out now!
Because of this, you might need to coach your friends on some things that would help you right now:
1. Don’t demand proof of the abuse. I may not have any proof that you can see. Just believe me and be there for me.
2. Don’t bad-mouth my husband. When you do that, I feel like I need to defend him.
3. Don’t tell me what I “have to” do. I have enough of that at home. If you help me think through my options, that would be a lot more helpful.
4. If you give me an ultimatum, like “If you go back to him one more time, I wash my hands of you,” then I won’t be able to confide in you anymore.
My friends became my lifeline during the last years of my marriage. Many times, just telling a friend what was happening lightened my burden.
Cultivating friendships may be difficult for some abused women, especially if their husbands are extremely controlling. If you have a husband who has limited the number of people you can come in contact with or who asks you many questions every time you are apart from him, this will be a challenge for you. See if you can talk to friends over the phone, Facebook them, or meet them when he is at work.
I learned firsthand how valuable my friends were by their love for me when I was at my lowest point. Proverbs 17:17 says it well:
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
Please also remember that Jesus is our closest friend.