Throughout October, I will be bringing you very important information about domestic violence and how you can protect yourself and the people around you. As we all know, abuse does not belong in any relationship so if your friend or someone you know is in an unhealthy situation, or if you're noticing a change in a friend's behavior — she's feeling ashamed, hopeless, or frightened — be sure to check out my tips on how to help.
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- If you think, but aren't sure that your friend is in an abusive relationship, start off by asking her these tough questions: Are you ever afraid of your partner? Has he ever threatened to harm you? Has he ever hit you? Forced you to have sex with him? Does he control you or purposely put you down? If she answers yes to any of these, her well-bring could be in danger.
- If you are worried about her safety, do not hesitate to call the police.
- To avoid a dangerous situation, advise your friend to seek a trusted confidant or spiritual advisor for advice. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is also a great recourse for general information and guidance, and they can help find a shelter in her area if she needs a safe place to stay. They are available to help 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
- If your friend has to flee from an abusive relationship, make sure she has an emergency plan — a place to go, an escape route, and someone she can call.
- She should also keep an emergency kit packed and easily accessible with the necessities: an ID, money, social security card, passport, an extra set of keys and any prescription medication.
- If your friend's abuser does not live with her, she should immediately change her locks, install a security system and obtain a restraining order. If she has children, she needs to alert her kids' school and their friends' parents so they can be protected and kept out of harm's way.
Domestic abuse happens in every culture, affects every race and every religion, and it may be happening to someone you love as we speak. Be sure to educate yourself so you can not only be there for a friend in need, but know what to look for in your own relationships.