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September 29, 2011 9:33 AM Subscribe
A friend in another state spent the night in a domestic violence shelter. What can/should I do to help?
posted by Alterscape to Human Relations (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My friend is in a long-term live-in relationship with a guy. I've known her since we both lived in the same east-coast metro area six years ago; I'm in the southwest now and she's in Virginia, but we still talk on IM or the phone a few times a month. She's been mentioning the guy's abusive behavior for at least six months. It's infrequent, and not violent enough to leave marks/bruises -- she says that once he pulled her by her ponytail away from a display, in public; several other times he's just hit her. Throughout, I have been encouraging her to leave the guy and seek other living arrangements, whether temporarily with a shelter, or with friends/family. She owns a car (he does not) and she has a part-time job that provides some income, but not enough to make rent on her own in her current area. Her family lives in other states and is not financially well-off.
She gave me the following justifications for not leaving: "Oh, he only does it when he's upset, and we're working on making that better." "If I leave and take the car, how will he get to work?" and, "I worry I'll be taking up a bed in the shelter that someone with a more abusive spouse could use." I disagree with these justifications, and have encouraged her to seek help and leave.
Last night I got a late-night text message from her, saying he'd hit her again and she'd got in the car and left, but didn't know where to go. I called her, and she'd been on the phone with her local domestic violence shelter. She stayed there last night, and is apparently now connected with some local resources. I talked to her this morning, and she sounded stunned, for lack of a better word.
Long story aside: I really want to support my friend in getting help and not going back to this abusive situation. I am on the other side of the country, so there's not much I can do in terms of offering a place to crash, etc. I'm a grad student, so there's not much I can do in terms of money. I will continue to listen to her and gently encourage her to continue getting help/support, but can anyone recommend other steps I can take to support her in getting help, taking care of herself, and not going back? I don't want to be preachy, but I also want to make sure she knows that her friends care about her and want to see her safe, and this guy is, based on what she's told me, in no way safe.