If you suspect your friend is abused, find a place where your friend feels comfortable and teel your friend, you care deeply for them. Explain how precious they are to you. Tell them you are worried about them and offer to listen if they want to talk to you about anything.
Then lend a non-judgmental ear. Avoid telling them how they feel or should feel. Avoid telling them what to do about it. Instead, once you have been the listener, you may ask them if they considered getting help one way or another. Most importantly, be someone they can talk to.
Believe what they are saying, even if they sound doubtful or their memories are vague. People who are abused often have extreme difficulty facing the truth. They may be denying what is happening to them. It may be very difficult for them to talk about it, to remember it or describe it. If you act skeptical or show that you don't believe them, it can be devastating for them. They may never reach out for help again to anyone if that occurs.
Do not break your friend's trust. They need someone they can talk to without fear that you will tell someone else. If you tell anyone without their permission, you will be violating their trust and you will then be unable to help them. The only exception is when your friend is considering suicide, you already encouraged them to get help, and they refused to do so. Then you must seek help from an agency immediately. (see help directory: suicide)
Avoid overwhelming your friend with your own feelings. Your friend has enough emotional distress to cause them pain. If they are abused by a family member or intimate partner, and you tell them how much you hate their abuser, they may feel guilty talking to you. They may feel guilty for upsetting you and bringing you into their misery.
Make it clear that you understand that they must heal at their own pace and you are willing to be there for them as long as it takes. Healing can take a very long time. Avoid ever showing that you are tired of hearing about their problems.
Avoid sympathizing with the abuser and avoid rationalizing or justifing the abuse in any way.
Assure your friend that it is not their fault. They may feel that it is in some way. Nobody asks to be abused. Asking for attention, affection or love is not the same thing.
After listening to them and establishing yourself as someone they can trust, ask them if they've considered seeking help from a professional, a trusted adult or an agency. Offer them a phone number, credentials, success stories or other background information on a place or person they can turn to. Make it clear, that there is no pressure for them to do so, and that you will always be here to listen.
Contact one of the help centers below. Life can get better if you take action today.
Childhelp USA and National Child Abuse Hotline
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network Hotline
Crisis & Grief Counseling
Boys Town National Hotline
Crisis counseling for girls and boys and referral to local help
National Urban league
Organization that "helps youth fight the temptations of the street"
National Runaway Switchboard
The National "YOUTH" Crisis Help line
Kristin Brooks Hope Center
A national organization that links callers to local crisis centers
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)
Great info on suicide and suicide prevention with useful links
the Covenant House
1-800-999-9999 crisis hotline
Although written for young kids, this site can provide useful information for adolescence on how to cope with thoughts of...