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- Ask direct questions, gently. Give her ample opportunity to talk. Don't rush into providing solutions.
- Listen without judging. Abused women often believe their abusers’ negative messages. They feel responsible, ashamed, inadequate, and are often afraid they will be judged.
- Let her know that you support and care about her, that she's not responsible for the violence, that only the abuser can stop the violence.
- Explain that physical violence in a relationship is never acceptable, at any time. There's no excuse for it – not alcohol or drugs, not financial pressures, not depression, not jealousy.
- Make sure she knows that she's not alone – that millions of American women from every ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic group suffer from abuse and that many find it difficult to leave.
- Also explain that domestic violence is a crime – as much of a crime as robbery – and that the legal system may be a resource for her.
- Let her know that it is likely that, in spite of his promises, the violence will continue and will likely escalate.
- Emphasize that when she is ready to leave the relationship, she should access the resources of the shelter and legal system. She will most likely be aware of the danger of leaving, but it is important to talk about it with her and to put her in touch with the proper resources.
- Provide her with information about local resources: the phone number of the local domestic violence hotline, support groups, counseling, shelter programs, and legal advocacy services. On campus, the Transformation Project (425-5605) can help you identify resources to help her.
- She may need financial assistance. She may need help finding a place to live. She may need a place to store her belongings. She may need assistance with her escape. Decide if you are comfortable and equipped for helping out in these ways.
- Contact your local battered women's program for advice or guidance.
- If she remains in the relationship, continue to be her friend while at the same time firmly
communicating to her that she does not deserve to be in this violent situation.
- Help her find out about protective orders which require the abuser to stay away or be arrested. There are very little costs associated with obtaining these orders. More information is available on this site or from the Project staff.
- Help her complete a safety plan which will help her think through how to best leave with the least risk. See the link on this page or contact Project Staff.
- If you see or hear an assault in progress, call the police, but because these assaults are often dangerous, do not physically intervene.