We speak so quickly sometimes. While wanting to help our abused friend, we stick our foot in it when we try. Or, we aren’t really sure we want to help at all. After all, helping can get messy, ugly, uncomfortable. Even dangerous. It’s easier to stay in the shadows, to tell yourself that you’ve got to think of your own family. It’s easier to lie to yourself that you want to be like Christ than it is to get busy and actually act like Christ. It’s so easy to over-react–or under-react–when someone comes to you for help. There’s things that you really don’t need to do (recoil in horror, act shocked, act disgusted, refuse to listen, refuse to believe her). There’s also things you really don’t need to say. Things that will hurt, embarrass, confuse. Things that will heap pain upon pain.
Things such as:
“I can’t believe that!” (Are you sure you want to be in the position of accusing her of lying?)
“Why Tommy is such a good man. Are you sure?” (Are you claiming to know her husband better than she herself does?)
“Why in the world did you stay so long? If I were you, I would have left long ago!” (You can’t possibly know what you would do unless you yourself were in exactly the same situation.)
Most of us live in a world without abuse. Our husbands or wives, parents or siblings, bosses or friends, might be unpleasant or selfish sometimes but most of them really couldn’t be described as abusive. Then there’s the rest of us: those of us whose lives are completely different, whose lives sometimes seem to be saturated with abusive people. Or, at least, an abusive person. When reality runs headlong into the rest of us and we come face-to-face with one who has been abused, we need to know what to do, how to act, how to not act shocked. Believing them is a good place to start. Just listen and believe. Then, if needed, get busy doing. Go with them to the doctor or the lawyer or the women’s shelter. Or take them food, give them a ride. There’s lots of good things to do. And there’s lots of things that are a rather good idea to say. Things that are comforting, supportive, full of grace.
Things such as:
“I am here for you. I believe you and I care.”
“Anytime you decide to leave, I will support you and do what I can to help.”
“This is not your fault. No one deserves to be treated in such a fashion.”
If you’re here, reading this blog, it’s a pretty good guess that abuse has touched your life in some way–or that of someone you know. So get prepared. Think things through. Ask yourself how would you want to be treated if you were the one looking for help. Then prepare a really good answer. Then do it. Here’s a good place to begin: http://www.notunderbondage.com/resources/Throughtheeyesofabatteredwoman.html