Respect that every woman has her own unique, story, needs, experiences and perceptions.
Should I Ask Her?
If you have a confidential space to talk with her then, yes, you should probably ask the question “Are you experiencing abuse and would you like information about local resources that can help?”
What if She Says No? What if the question embarrasses her? What if she gets angry?
She may well say no. Maybe no means no. Or maybe she knows that now isn’t the time for her to take action. Yes, sometimes the question is embarrassing, but most women will understand that you mean well and care about their welfare. At least she will know someone cares.
Should I offer to help?
It is her decision whether or not she wants you to help, what kind of help she needs and if she is willing to accept help. She knows her situation better than anyone.
How can I help?
If she says she needs help, ask her what kind of help she needs.
Is she in immediate danger?
She may need you to call 911.
If she is not in imminent danger?
Listen, be attentive, provide information from this site and others. She may not have safe access to an unmonitored computer or phone. Does she want counselling? Does she want more information about local resources? Be mindful of the situation. Do not ask questions about abuse in front of a potential abuser. Do no leave phone or text messages about abuse. This could put her in danger.
Be supportive even when it’s difficult to understand why she continues to be in relationship with an abusive partner. Understand that she will leave when she is psychologically ready- and all the moments she turns to friends for help are in fact prepping for the time she will be able to leave.
IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER
Unless you are specially trained in women’s services, anti violence or victim services, it is usually best practice to connect the woman up with these services. These services can help her with a SAFETY PLAN and assess her level of danger.
From Walking With Our Sisters: A Project of the Vancouver Island North Resource Society, Campbell River BC