Helping a friend who has become a victim of domestic abuse may not be easy, but it must be done. Here are some general ideas how you can help.
Tell your friend that you see what's going on and explain that physical violence in a relationship is never acceptable. Assure them that the abuse is not their fault but that it is also not "normal". Tell them they deserve a healthy, non-violent relationship. Make sure she understands that relationship abuse is a crime and that she can get help from police and courts as well as local violence programs.
Urge her to develop a safety plan, which will include: fast escape routes from the house, a safe place to go and a telephone number of a domestic violence hotline. Remind her that if being abused she can always call 911. It's also a good idea to keep money, important documents, a change of clothes, and an extra set of keys in a safe place, such as at a friends or neighbor's house. Encourage her to open her own bank account and have the statements sent to a trusted friend or relative.
There are many reasons why it may be difficult for a victim to leave her abuser. Many women believe the negative messages they hear about themselves from their abuser and as a result have a very low self-esteem. If she has children, she may feel guilty about bringing them up without their father. In addition, many victims fear for their lives. So, it's up to you to show support by understanding that you cannot rescue your friend. It may be frustrating to watch someone you care about stay with or go back to their abusive partner after having left, but that's up to them. The best thing you can do is let them know you are there for them when they are ready for help.
For more information and counsel, contact a local domestic violence program.