- Why don’t you just leave? This can make the survivor feel bad and guilty if they aren’t ready to leave or they don’t want to leave their partner. It might make the survivor feel like they can’t talk to you about their relationship. A better way to express your concern might be to say “I’m worried about your relationship” or ask “how are you feeling about the relationship?
- I would never put up with that. This can make the survivor feel embarrassed and could keep them from wanting to talk about what is going on in their relationship. We know that abuse thrives in silence so the last thing we want our friends to do is to stop talking about what is going on. Try telling them, “You can talk to me about your relationship. I’m here to listen.”
- Unless you are leaving, I don’t want to hang out with you. Abusers often control their partners by isolating them from friends and family. If you stop hanging out with your friend, then your friend becomes more isolated and has less support. The abuser gains more power this way. Friends who are experiencing abuse need support and love to help counteract the negative messages they are getting from their partner. Try letting them know “I’m here for you, no matter what.”
- Your partner (or boyfriend, girlfriend, boo, etc) is a #%*@#! You may be thinking this in your head but saying to your friend might not help. It often puts them in the position to defend their partner instead of thinking about their partner’s abusive behavior. Try saying something like “I don’t like the way she treats you” or “What he did yesterday seemed really messed up.”
- You should seek couple’s counseling. Couple’s counseling ignores the power dynamic that exists in a relationship where there is abuse. Because of this power dynamic it is not possible for a couple to work together on the relationship. The survivor does not have the option to share their feelings about the relationship because it is not safe for them to do so. If the survivor talks about their feelings the abuser may retaliate once the session is over. Couple’s counseling also ignores the power of intimidation that the abuser holds over the survivor.
- LGBQ/T people don’t abuse. A lot of people think that abuse can’t happen in LGBQ/T communities, but sadly it happens at similar rates as in straight communities. 25-33% of LGBQ/T experience partner abuse. If your friend isn’t able to identify that what they are experiencing is abuse, then it will make it harder for them to get help and support. Make sure your friends know about LGBQ/T partner abuse. Ask them “Have you heard of partner abuse?”
Supporting a friend who is going through partner abuse can be hard. Please know that you can call our hotline to get support and information about how to help your friend: 617-742-4911 (voice) and 617-227-4911 (TTY).