Posts Tagged: domestic violence

Emotional Abuse: 16 Signs that it’s Happening to You

Are you living in an emotionally toxic relationship? Women often know there is something wrong in their relationship because of the fighting and the terrible things that are said, but they want to believe the best about their partners. They don’t want to believe that their partner is actually emotionally abusive. How can they know for sure? Emotional Abuse seems so ambiguous, that many victims feel silly even bringing it up. Since emotional abuse doesn’t leave physical wounds or scars, it is sometimes ignored. But did you know that emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse?

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Many couples will have infrequent arguments where both say things they regret. Many couples get into dysfunctional habits and cycles that cause problems in the long run. However, emotional abuse is different. Emotional abuse is pervasive, repeated and a perpetual relational style of keeping a one-up/ one-down status in the relationship. The following are signs of Emotional Abuse.

16 Signs of Emotional Abuse

  1. Blame: They tend to blame you for their own mistakes. Even if you had nothing to do with it or weren’t even around, somehow it becomes your fault.
  2. Fights Are Huge: Every couple has arguments, and may even say hurtful things they regret later. However, emotionally abusive partners escalate arguments into cutting, explosive fights where he emerges from the wreckage without a care.
  3. Name Calling: Cruel put downs like “Stupid Ass, Crazy Bitch, Jesus Freak” and others I won’t even write, are used to make you feel stupid, crazy, and ridiculous. You may be called these names in front of others, your kids or when you are all alone.
  4. Yelling, Cussing, Vulgarity: Using volume, profanity and vulgar slurs takes what could be a normal activity or conflict, and makes it scary, threatening and mean-spirited.
  5. Excessive Teasing: Every relationship can endure, and may even be enhanced by some good natured teasing, especially when both can laugh at themselves easily. However, teasing becomes emotionally abusive when it crosses a line from good natured to cruel and excessive. Teasing can be used to control, threaten and over-power.
  6. Threatening: Feedback, suggestions, and constructive criticism are met quickly with ultimatums, threats and terrorizing antics. Threats are usually carefully crafted weapons aimed right where they will hurt you most.
  7. Badgering: once you’ve expressed your boundaries, your partner aggressively pesters you in order to get you to change your mind. This tactic is used to wear you down until you give in.
  8. Punishing Silence: a partner who habitually withdraws from the relationship in order to prove a point or get back at you is emotionally abusive.
  9. Constant Criticism or Judgment: Emotionally abusive people use criticism and judgment to keep you in “your place” or keep you feeling bad about yourself so you won’t assert your need for better treatment.
  10. Disregard: Emotionally Abusive people will disregard your opinions, needs, or ideas. You may feel like you are not seen as a whole and equal person in the relationship because your partner minimizes you.
  11. Gas-Lighting: Accuse you of being crazy or too sensitive. When you complain about this treatment, you are disregarded. You are lead to believe that you are the problem, not the emotional abuse.
  12. Control of Finances: It’s normal for partners to have different roles in the relationship, like for one to handle the finances and the other to handle house maintenance. But when finances are controlled or kept from the other partner, the imbalance of power is abusive and wrong.
  13. Contempt: Contemptuous body language, facial expression, implying disgust toward you. This may seem very covert, and maybe even small. However, its impact damages self esteem, feelings of safety, and trust.
  14. Ignoring Boundaries: Repeated disregard for your boundaries, limits, space or requests. We only truly know how someone will respect us once we say no. If your partner repeatedly dismisses your expressed needs or requests, this is a violation of your person.
  15. The Pot Calling the Kettle Black: This sneaky tactic is when your partner accuses you of the thing he/she is really guilty of. For example, he/she will give examples of you being emotionally abusive in attempt at convincing you that you are the problem. Psychologists call this projection.
  16. Excessive Anger: Anger may be loud and overt, or silent and seething. Their anger is used to intimidate and control. You may feel yourself avoiding difficult conversations, walking on eggshells, and trying not to upset your partner.

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If you are finding yourself sadly nodding your head as you read this list, you are not alone. You may be coming to the realization that your relationship is not only unhappy, but down right abusive. Emotional abuse is important to identify and stop. Emotional abuse may seem easier to overlook, than to confront. You probably intuitively know that the abuse may get worse after confronting it. This seems risky and scary. But the abuse doesn’t get better or go away over time. Without intervention, emotional abuse only gets more severe and more frequent. Taking steps to be safe can be a long process, but worth it for you, your children and the people around you. For more information on setting boundaries and staying safe, click here.






What if He Doesn’t Stop? Escaping Destructive Relationships

What if your partner won’t respect your boundaries? What if you asked for what you need, and your boundary is ignored, dismissed or worse, judged sinful or wrong? What should you do when you know you’re in a destructive relationship?


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What are Boundaries?

Quick Version: Boundaries are your needs, limits and wants. Having good boundaries means not taking responsibility for your partner’s needs and feelings, taking responsibility for your own needs and feelings, saying “no” to the things that you don’t want and need, and “yes” to the things you do.

Signs of Destructive Relationships

Relationships where one or both partner do not respect the other’s boundaries or needs are emotionally destructive. If you are in an emotionally destructive relationship, here are some things that you may be experiencing when you try to set a boundary or express a need:

  • Turning the conversation back to him and his needs.
  • Telling you that you are wrong for setting the boundary.
  • Insinuating that your boundary is ridiculous, misguided, feministic, unbiblical, unkind or just dumb.
  • Turning the blame back onto you.
  • Evading personal responsibility using different tactics

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Confronting the Problem

If ignoring your boundaries or needs becomes a pattern, then confronting the pattern of behavior is the next step. When an apology and plan of action are the appropriate response, women in destructive relationships will experience these common responses to confrontation instead.

  • Rage-filled tirade listing your faults, your personal flaws.
  • Personal Attacks claiming you are the one with the problem.
  • Sob story how he is really the victim.
  • Threats to leave you, harm you, or turn the kids against you.

Some women intuitively know that if they advocate too hard for their boundaries and needs to be respected, then their partner will do something drastic, like threaten suicide, or even harm them or their children. Many women are paralyzed with fear over the consequences of “upsetting” him.

One thing you can be sure of, is nothing will change, unless you remove yourself from the abuse.

I know. This part really sucks. Many women want tools and techniques to help deal with these dismissive, disrespectful and abusive behaviors. They want techniques to survive their destructive marriage, instead of breaking free from their destructive marriage. But destructive relationships… destruct, destroy, and deplete until there is nothing left. Ultimately, there IS NO surviving destructive relationships.

Surviving can only be a TEMPORARY plan, and Breaking Free must be the ultimate goal.

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When Communication Doesn’t Work

Abusive behaviors WILL NOT STOP unless you refuse to put up with them anymore. What does REFUSAL TO BE ABUSED look like? Although every relationship is different, here are some options to consider as you make your personal Breaking-Free goals.

  • Addressing the abusive behaviors (blame shifting, personal attacks, sabotage, lying, manipulation, critical judgments, name calling, etc.) in a counseling session with a counselor or pastor. Having a third party witness and affirm your needs can be a powerful change agent.
  • Refusing to stay in a counseling session where the counselor or pastor does not recognize these behaviors as abusive. Combative, manipulative, rage-filled tactics should be identified in session and proclaimed as unacceptable. If your pastor or counselor is unable to do this, give yourself permission to find another who has experience with abuse tactics.
  • Communicating repetitively and clearly that “Hostile and abusive behavior is no longer acceptable to me.”  Just saying these words out loud can be empowering to you.
  • Consider increased separation (i.e. sleeping in separate bedrooms, separate homes, etc.)
  • Talking with an attorney to educate yourself about temporary orders. It is important to gather information about all your options. You do not have to act on any option until you’re, but getting the information is empowering to help you make important decisions.
  • Calling the police when you feel threatened, or are being harmed. This is an important step to keeping yourself safe and setting a boundary against abusive behavior.
  • Attaining a No Contact Order. Visiting your local police department to find out what this entails and when a No Contact Order should be used. This is another step in educating yourself about all your options. This may be the extra help you need to resist his attempts at controlling you.
  • Filing for Separation or Divorce. Many women stuck in these destructive relationships resist considering separation or divorce. They are desperate to keep the family together. To see him change. To try a new miracle retreat or counselor or relationship book. However, when you get to the “end of all trying,” consider separation or divorce as a gift from God on the pathway to recovery, wholeness and new life. Consider divorce as the legal way of protecting you from more harm.

Most women are afraid that if they start setting these boundaries and taking action, things will get worse, he will get angrier, and an ugly divorce will be inevitable. This is sometimes the case, but steps to protect yourself are necessary. Instead of thinking of all the worst case scenarios, take one small step at a time. If you need help with these next steps and you are in the Seattle area, I have a great resource for you. You can call Havens Community Connection for coaching support and resource referrals at, 425-610-8612. If you are not in the Seattle area, call the Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

NEED ANSWERS NOW? I’ve written a book just for you, so click here. You are not alone, and this book can help!




How to Set Boundaries with an Angry Person: Part I

Have you tried to talk sense with someone who is hell bent on being right? Have you tried to say “no” to someone only to acquiesce in order to calm him down? If you are in a relationship with an angry person, you know just how difficult it is to set a boundary, ask for something you need, or say “no” to something he wants.

Dealing with an angry person over long periods of time, can end up making you feel down, hopeless and even depressed.

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That’s why setting boundaries with angry people is absolutely necessary to your emotional health. Anger can be used to control you with fear and threats. You may feel intimidated to hold an angry person accountable for fear of reprisal. Angry people use their angry, threatening persona to keep from having to take responsibility for their actions.

Women in relationships with angry men often feel small and insignificant, as though their needs and opinions are less important than their husband’s. Sometimes I hear women say things like, “It’s just better to be quiet,” or “I walk on eggshells,” or “Nothing I say is ever right.” This dynamic slowly erodes a women’s sense of worth and joy, leaving her to live in quiet fear and depression.

Setting boundaries is a crucial step when trying to change a relationship power imbalance. The practice of setting boundaries can actually return a sense of value and empowerment to the woman setting them.

What is a boundary: a boundary is a limit or expectation placed between two people. Neighbors have property lines. Business partners have shares. We operate under spoken and unspoken agreements all the time. Problems arise in relationships when the boundary lines are disrespected, unclear, or manipulated for the gain of power. The best way to understand healthy boundaries is simply having the ability to share an opinion, need or limit with the expectation of it being respected and accommodated for.

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  1. Step One: Without sharing anything with your partner yet, identify your needs, wants and limits. Explore them, legitimize them and journal them. What is it that you need, but are afraid to ask for? Give yourself permission to value your own needs, wants and limits. Be specific. What do you need financially, emotionally, physically, personally, spiritually? Do you need your partner to get help for his addiction, his anger, or his anxiety? Allow yourself the freedom to brainstorm about your own needs and wants.
  2. Step Two: Research ways to meet your own needs and limits. Explore your options and resources. Put some effort, investment and time into honoring and meeting those needs and limits. Do you want your own gym membership? Your own bank account? More privacy? More space? Hired help for the house or kids? Marriage counseling? Weekly massage?  Look into ways that you can get the support and self care you need. The more options you give yourself, the more power and freedom you will feel. Now wait-a-minute, wait-a-minute. I know what you’re thinking. “He’s just going to say “NO” to anything I need or ask for!” You might be exactly right. But right now, you are exploring your needs and limits, and what you believe to be reasonable. Resist the temptation to filter your needs through his approval.
  3. Step Three: Get Support. It is advisable to invite a third party into the conversation. Whether pastor, friend or counselor, a third party can help you verbalize your needs, and help your partner hear with an open mind. You may feel unsafe or afraid to set a boundary without the accountability of someone your husband respects. If so, that is a good signal to invite extra reinforcements. Some women will skip this step because, “Talking about his anger problem with the pastor will only make him angrier. I’ll pay for it once we get home.” This may be very true. This can be a very scary situation that calls for a safety plan, especially if your partner has ever abused you or threatened to abuse you before. (Click here for helpful information to keep yourself safe.)

At this point in the steps, you still haven’t had to confront your partner yet. You are still in the Planning stages of discovery and support. There are four more steps to setting strong boundaries with an angry person, but Google and Bing like bite-sized blog posts, and so do millennials. (I see you, 20 somethings.) That’s why I’ve separated this post into two parts. These three steps are worth spending the extra time on, so I feel ok stopping at this point (sorry, not sorry.) It’s tempting to just skip to the part when you “Tell him the boundary already!” However, without doing the necessary leg work of these three important steps, your boundary could come out befuzzled, and go kerplunck as soon as it comes out. You know what I mean. You “kinda” set the boundary, “sorta” ask for what you need, and beat around the bush until you back-paddle and hide. Or  you do the opposite and make demands, chasing them down with character assassination. No Bueno. Neither work, and neither is healthy adult functioning.


Spend some time on these first three steps until your needs and wants seem boringly normal, not lofty and unattainable. Be so sure and so solid of your own value that no amount of anger could shake you loose from your inherent worth.

Words of Warning: People who have a pattern of anger, hostility and emotional or physically abusive behavior need psychotherapeutic, and sometimes legal intervention. Without it, nothing will change. And even if counseling is engaged, there is no guarantee that he will put the effort in to truly changing. The process of setting boundaries with an angry person is less about whether he changes or not, and more about giving yourself what you need. If the angry person gets more hostile as a result of your insistence for respect, then consider legal advice, a no-contact order and supportive intervention from a third party.

Steps to Keep Myself Safe

The following steps are a plan to increase my safety and preparing in advance for the possibility of violence in my relationship. Although I do not have control over my partner’s violence, I do have a choice about how to respond to him/her and how to keep myself and my children safe. These steps can help me think through my options and plan my course for safety.

STEP 1:  Safety During a Violent Incident. Women cannot always avoid violent incidents. In order to increase safety, battered women may use the following strategies.

A. If I decide to leave, I will _____________________________________________________.     (Practice how to get out safely. What doors, windows, elevators, stairwells, or fire escapes would you use?)

B. I can keep my purse and car keys ready and put them (location) __________________________________ in order to leave quickly.

C. I can tell _____________________________ about the violence and request that she or he call the police if she or he hears suspicious noises coming from my house.

D. I can teach my children how to use the telephone to contact the police, the fire department, and 911.

E. I will use _____________________________________________ as my code with my children or my friends so they can call for help.

F. If I have to leave my home, I will go to _________________________________________.  (Decide this even if you don’t think there will be a next time.)

G. I can also teach some of these strategies to some or all of my children.

H. When I expect we’re going to have an argument, I’ll try to move to a place that is low risk, such as __________________________________. (Try to avoid arguments in the bathroom, garage, kitchen, near weapons, or in rooms without access to an outside door.)

I. I will use my judgment and intuition. If the situation is very serious, I can give my partner what he/she wants to calm him/her down, before I try to leave.

STEP 2: When It’s Time to Leave. Abused women frequently leave the residence they share with their partner. Leaving must be done with a careful plan in order to increase safety. Batterers often strike back when they believe that a battered woman is leaving a relationship. The following strategies can be used:

A. I will leave money and an extra set of keys with _________________________ so I can leave quickly. I will keep copies of important documents or keys at _____________________________.

B. I will open a savings account by ____________________, to increase my independence. Other things I can do to increase my independence include: ____________________________________________________.

C. I can keep change for phone calls on me at all times. I understand that if I use my  cell phone card, the following month’s phone bill may show my batterer the numbers I called. To keep my phone communications confidential, I must either use coins, a friend’s phone, or a disposable phone.

D. I will check with _________________________ and _________________________ to see who would be able to let me stay with them or lend me some money. I can leave extra clothes or money with __________________________.

 E. I will review my safety plan every week or month in order to plan the safest way to leave the residence. ________________________ (domestic violence advocate or friend’s name) has agreed to help me review this plan.

F. I will rehearse my escape plan and, as appropriate, practice it with my children.

STEP 3:  Safety at Home. There are many things that a woman can do to increase her safety in her own residence. Practical Safety Steps can be implemented as you go.

A. I can change the locks on my doors and windows.

B. I can replace wooden doors with steel/metal doors.

C. I can install security systems including additional locks, window bars, poles to wedge against doors, an electronic system, etc.

D. I can purchase rope ladders to be used for escape from second floor windows.

E. I can install smoke detectors and fire extinguishers for each floor of my house/apartment.

F. I can install an outside lighting system that activates when a person is close to the house.

G. I will teach my children how to call me or _________________ (name of friend, etc.) in the event that my partner takes the children.

H. I will tell the people who take care of my children which people have permission to pick up my children and that my partner is not permitted to do so. The people I will inform about pick-up permission include: ______________________ (name of school)    ____________________ (name of babysitter)  ______________________________ (name of teacher)    _________________________________ (name of Sunday-school teacher)  ___________________ (name[s] of others) ________________________________________________.

I. I can inform ________________________ (neighbor) and ________________________ (friend) that my partner no longer resides with me and that they should call the police if he is observed near my residence.

STEP 4:  Order of Protection. Many batterers adhere to protection orders, but there are some who won’t. I recognize that I may need to ask the police and the courts to enforce my protective order. The following are some steps I can take to help the enforcement of my protection order:

A. I will keep my protection order _________________________ (location). Always keep it on or near your person. If you change purses, that’s the first thing that should go in the new purse.

B. I will give my protection order to police departments in the community where I work, in those communities where I visit friends or family, and in the community where I live.

C. There should be county and state registries of protection orders that all police departments can call to confirm a protection order. I can check to make sure that my order is on the registry. The     telephone numbers for the county and state registries of protection orders are:    _______________________ (county) and ____________________ (state).

D. I will inform my employer; my minister, rabbi, etc.; my closest friend; and __________________  that I have a protection order in effect. If my partner destroys my protection order, I can get another copy from the clerk’s office.

E. If the police do not help, I can contact an advocate or an attorney and file a complaint with the chief of the police department or the sheriff.

F. If my partner violates the protection order, I can call the police and report the violation, contact

STEP 5:  Safety at Work and in Community. Each victim of Domestic Violence must decide if and when she will tell others that her partner has battered her and that she may be at continued risk. Friends, family, and co-workers can help to protect women. Each woman should carefully consider which people to invite to help secure her safety.

A. I can inform my boss, the security supervisor, and _______________________ at work.

B. I can ask ____________________________________ to help me screen my telephone calls at     work.

C. When leaving work, I can ________________________________________________________.

D. If I have a problem while driving home, I can _________________________________________.

E. If I use public transit, I can ________________________________________________________.

F. I will go to different grocery stores and shopping malls to conduct my business and shop at hours     that are different from those I kept when residing with my battering partner.

G. I can use a different bank and go at hours that are different from those kept when residing with      my battering partner.

STEP 6:  Addiction. Some people in Domestic Violent situations use alcohol or drugs in unhealthy ways. Women may be tempted to use alcohol or drugs as a means to cope, but should carefully consider the potential cost: mood altering substances can reduce a woman’s awareness and ability to act quickly to protect herself or her children from the abuser.

A. I understand the risk of neglect or violence to myself or children if I’m high or drunk. It’s far better to stay sober and alert.

B. If my partner is using, I can ________________________________________________________     and/or ________________________________________________________________________.

C. To safeguard my children I could __________________________________________________.

STEP 7:  Self Care. Fleeing from an abusive relationship can be emotionally exhausting and overwhelming. In order to give myself proper care and healing, I can do some of the following:

A. If I feel down and am tempted to return to my abusive partner, I can _________________________________________________________________.

B. When I have to communicate with my partner in person or by telephone, I can ________________________________________________________.

C. I will try to use “I can … ” statements with myself and be assertive with others.

D. I can tell myself, “________________________________________________________”   whenever I feel others are trying to control or abuse me.

E. I can read _________________________________ to help me feel stronger. I can call ______________________________________ for support.

F. I can attend workshops and support groups at the domestic violence program or ________________________________________ to gain support and strengthen relationships.

STEP 8:  Items to take when leaving. When women leave partners, it is important to take certain items. Women can give an extra copy of papers and set of clothing to a friend just in case they have to leave quickly. Money: Even if I never worked, I can take money from jointly held savings and checking accounts. If I do not take this money, he can legally take the money and close the accounts.

Items on the following lists with asterisks by them are the most important to take with you. If there is time, the other items might be taken, or stored outside the home. These items might best be placed in one location, so that if we have to leave in a hurry, I can grab them quickly.  When I leave, I should take: Identification for myself, Children’s birth certificate, My birth certificate, Social Security cards, School and vaccination records, Money, Checkbook, Credit cards, House, Office, Car Keys, Driver’s license and registration,  medications, Copy of protection order, Copy of No Contact Order, Welfare identification, work permits, green cards, Passport(s), divorce papers, Medical records for all family members, Lease/rental agreement, house deed, mortgage payment book, Bank books, insurance papers, Address book, Pictures, jewelry.

Numbers to know: Police/sheriff’s department (local) – 911 or ___________________________ Police/sheriff’s department_________________________________ Prosecutor’s office _______________________________________ Battered women’s program (local) ________________, National Domestic Violence Hotline:  800-799-SAFE (7233)           

County registry of protection orders _____________________________ State registry of protection orders ___________________________________

 I will keep this document in a safe place and out of the reach of my abuser.

Name: _____________________________________________  Date: ____________________________

WARNING: Abusers try to control their victim’s lives. When abusers feel a loss of control – like when victims try to leave them – the abuse often gets worse. Take special care when you leave. Keep being careful even after you have left.


How to Help A Friend In a Toxic Relationship

Do you love your friend, but can’t stand the guy she is with? Is he emotionally, verbally or physically abusive to her but acts like it’s no big deal? Maybe he drinks too much, is too controlling, or has a reputation for being a bad boy. Whatever it is, you are afraid she is getting into a relationship that she won’t be able to get out of, and it scares you. Here are 10 ways for you to help your friend who’s in a toxic relationship.


1.Trust Your Instinct. You may not know if he is abusive or not, but something about him makes you uneasy. Instead of brushing that feeling off, pay attention to it. If you don’t trust him, there is probably something about him that doesn’t add up. Your instinct is a powerful tool in helping you discern safe from un-safe people.

2. Ask Hard Questions. If you have reservations about your friend’s new guy, be willing to ask her questions and share your reservations. It may feel awkward or even a little confrontational. Be careful to show your care and concern and re-iterate how important she is to you. There is no need to lecture her about her answers to these questions. Just be willing to ask things like, “Do you know where the money is going?” or “Has he hurt you before?” or “Are you scared that he might hurt you?” or “Does he threaten you?” She may be reluctant to tell you unless she is pointedly asked.


3. Remain Non-judgmental. Chances are, she sees things in him that you don’t, and she loves him. She also believes that he loves her, no matter what other people may say. Reserve judgment and try to empathize with her feelings. If she sees the good in him, pointing out the bad may only push her farther away from you and into his arms. Be careful to stay empathetic and open to your friend. Women in toxic or abusive relationships often feel trapped, powerless and unable to leave. It is possible to remain supportive of her without supporting his abusive behavior.

4. Plan a Mini- Intervention. An intervention should be carefully considered in regard to making sure your friend feels safe, supported and cared for. Invite a couple of her closest friends or family members together to share your concerns with her. It’s important that she not feel coerced, pressured or guilted into leaving the abusive relationship. Be careful not to run through a list of the things you don’t like about her guy. Instead, share how you’ve noticed her changing, how you miss seeing her as often, and that you are there for her when she needs you. Tell her, “You don’t seem as happy as you used to,” or “You don’t do the things that used to make you happy. Is everything ok?” An intervention may not result in a “Rescue Operation,” but it can be a first step to help her feel the support she needs if/when she decides to leave.

5. Believe Her. If, and when she opens up to you about emotional, physical or financial abuse, it’s important for her to feel like you believe her, and that what she is saying is important. Abuse comes in many forms: obsessive control, psychological manipulation, religious intimidation, jealous rage, and invasive badgering. If your friend says there is “something wrong” but can’t put her finger on it, believe her without supporting details. She more than likely has tried to minimize or excuse the abuse for awhile, and admitting it is extremely difficult. Validating her fear and pain is important, as is helping her think through next steps.

6. Ask her how she wants you to help. It’s ok if you don’t know what to do, what to say or how to help. Ask her how you can support her. No one has all the right answers at all the right times, and she probably doesn’t want answers as much as a friend to listen, share her burden, and be a safe person to turn to. If she does want help to get safe, see #8.

7. Be patient. Often, women in abusive relationships contemplate leaving for years but fear the consequences of that decision. She may be afraid of losing her children, or that he will take revenge. She may still be hopeful that he will change. You may be tempted to become frustrated with her indecision, but this indecision is an important part of her process to finally break free. Instead of pressuring her to leave, tell her you support her decision to leave but you understand how hard that decision is to make. The leaving/going back process may take years. Let her know you’re there for her no matter what she decides.


8. Be practical. If she is trying to escape her relationship, be as practical as you can. Some suggestions are: buy her a phone with a private number to use in emergencies, give her a safe place to stay, drive her to a safe house, watch her kids while she gets help, ask if you can call the police to escort her to get her things, or help her make connections with local Domestic Violence Agencies. and 1-800-799-7233 are domestic violence helplines that can help with next steps. The dedicated people here are a wealth of information and are willing to help.

9. Remind her of her value and worth. Often, women in toxic relationships can lose their confidence and sense of self-worth. They may live in a state of anxiety or depression and feel unable to take important steps toward health and healing. Help them to remember that they are important to you and to the people who love them.

10. Pray. Sometimes prayer is the best and only way to help. Toxic, abusive relationships have a great deal of power over women and their families. Without breaching her confidentiality, rally friends and family together to pray that 1) this toxic power loses its grip, 2) that the threat of emotional and physical violence is replaced by safety and support, and 3) that Light would replace darkness. Pray that your friend is able to feel her own value and receive care from those who truly love her. Once she breaks free from the abuse, she will need extra prayer support to stay strong, stay safe and stay the course.

Your friend is lucky and blessed to have you. You may be afraid that you’ve said or done the wrong thing in the past. Maybe you’ve even kept your distance for awhile. Maybe you’ve been hurt because she pulled away from you. These things commonly happen. These feelings don’t have to stop your love for her. And Love always wins.

My “Relationship Savvy” blog gives you tips, advice, and flippin’ fantastic feel-goods to help with your most difficult relationship challenges.

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