Lately it has crossed my mind that abusive relationships are still considered a “taboo” subject in most families despite the fact that they are common. People still feel uncomfortable
talking about being in abusive relationships because we still get people stigmatized. It is very important for us to know how do we offer help to those who are going through abusive relationship.
We often ask ourselves, why do people stay in abused relationship? But those who are in abusive relationship have many reasons for staying. Some reasons include; being financially dependent on the abuser, fear of the abuser or being alone, the believe that they will never find love again, being ashamed of divorce and a lot more reasons. It may be frustrating for you as someone close to watch a loved one go through abuse and feeling helpless. Most people advise those who are in abusive relationships to leave, thinking that it is a simple task but in reality that is not the case.
One of the most common mistakes loved one of the victim of abuse tend to make is to get angry at the situation. I know it can be emotionally exhausting to have to deal with the same story repeatedly but remember losing patient and cutting ties is what the abuser wants.
Abusers like to isolate their victims, so think twice before you “ditch” a loved one because he or she is more alone in the abuse than before and that is what abusers want. Abuse victims experience a lot of hurt and need support to gain courage to come to a point where they leave the relationship. Keep in mind that leaving is not that simple.
Many who try to leave their abusive partners end up dead. Advising them to just abruptly leave is not a smart move.
The “I know it all advice” we often give makes abuse victims feel worse about their situation. I mean, who wants to hear how foolish they are for staying in a cold relationship. They already know that their situation is not ideal, so it would be wise to thread slowly when this topic comes up. Sometimes what abuse victims want from us when they confide is to listen and I know doing nothing is not helping but you can expose them to options available to them.
Abuse can either be physical, financial, mental and emotional and it can lead to low self-esteem. All you can do for your abused friend is to listen. Abused people are not heard because we don’t listen when they talk, we always want to projects our own judgments and opinions. Give them the space that they need and offer support in any way you can without putting their lives in danger. Seeking professional help would help because friends and family are not equipped in handling matters of such nature.
By Mapula Matswalela