5 guidelines to help your loved one who is unknowingly being abused

Seeing your friend or family member in an abusive relationship is hard, especially when she doesn't know she is being abused. You can't make her recognize the abuse, but you can still help her in these five ways.

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  • You might be watching a loved one suffer in an abusive relationship. It might be especially hard for you if the loved one isn't aware she is being abused. Trying to help an unaware victim of abuse is difficult, but the follow five guidelines can apply to help both male and female victims of abuse.

  • 1. Love and support

  • Everyone wants to be loved and supported. When a loved one is in an abusive relationship she needs love even more. An abuser contorts the expression of love and doesn't support their victim's decisions. The abuser often seeks to control the actions, thoughts and feelings of their victim.

  • Always and frequently say you love the victim. Don't abandon the victim when she makes decision you disagree with, but support her in her good decisions. When your friend or family member victim realizes she is being abused, she will need your support and love even more. She will feel comfortable talking to you and taking your advice.

  • Support them during the abuse and you help them when they are ready for aid.

  • 2. Spending time together

  • Spending time one on one time with the victim away from her abuser will help clear her mind and will also create a relationship of trust. She will feel comfortable talking to you and confiding in you. This will also allow you to see how she is doing. Offer advice when asked and make sure she enjoys her time with you.

  • 3. Express concerns sensitively

  • Don't make your loved one defensive - this will just push them away from you and closer to her abuser. When a victim becomes defensive about her relationship she will defend her abuser, discovering more reasons to stay instead of recognizing the problem.

  • At the same time, don't stay silent. If you have concerns about a loved one's relationship, express the concern in a sensitive and private way. Think carefully about the words you say. Always say that you love them. Don't act like a professional counselor, even if you are one. The key is to be a friend who has concerns but will always love the victim no matter what.

  • 4. Surround them with healthy relationships

  • When someone expects to be insulted, hit or forced into doing something, she might not realize it is abnormal. Letting the victim see healthy couple interactions is key in helping them see their situation as abusive.

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  • When doing this, don't make it obvious. Don't say, "See, this is how a good relationship is." That will create defensive and hostile feelings. Let the victim realize the differences on her own. She will likely take action when she discovers the truth, because she won't feel stupid in front of her friends and family.

  • 5. Never say "I told you so"

  • "I told you so" is one of the worst phrases you can use when a victim realizes she is being abused. The victim knows you were right. There is no reason to demoralize them. In fact, she probably heard the phrase "I told you so" often enough from her abuser.

  • You recognized the signs first, sure, but that doesn't matter in the end. What matters is she recognized it. Now you can help them out of the relationship or get them help.

  • An outside perspective can often be clearer than an insider's perspective when it comes to relationships. If you are on the outside, you don't always understand what is going on inside the relationship, so always love and never judge. Be the loving support system your friend needs right now and help in every way possible to help her get the help she needs.

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Stacie Simpson is a FamilyShare staff writer. She loves listening to, gathering and sharing stories and advice to help others improve their quality of life. She spends most of her free time with her husband, ballroom dancing, reading and writing.

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