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Three Ways to Help Your Friend in an Abusive Relationship during the Pandemic

You’re home with your family all the time now. You miss work and being with your friends. Your kids miss school and being with their friends. You’re worried about money. You’re worried about the virus. There’s a lot of tension and anxiety swirling all around.

Think what it would be like if your spouse were abusive.

Domestic violence has always been terrible, but it’s worse now. The options for even emergency escape have never been more limited. Everyone’s worried about being exposed to the virus. Shelters are open, but they’re more crowded than ever and are likely to be higher risk for exposure to covid-19 than staying at home.

So what can you do to help your friend and her* children be safer during this time of physical isolation?

* I’m saying “her” because that’s the most common, dangerous scenario; and that’s also what my experience as a gynecologist has been.

Three Things You Can Do that are Actually Helpful

  1. Stay socially connected. Check in (as long she tells you it’s safe for you to do so). She needs a friend more than ever right now.
  2. Have a code. If she calls or emails and says something like, “I’m out of milk,” that’s the code for you to call 911 on her behalf.
  3. Remind her that the kids should not try to stop up a violent event. They’re more likely to get hurt themselves. Instead, they should get out of the room and call 911.

You’re not a therapist, and you can’t fix her life. But for her to hear a kind, sympathetic voice saying she doesn’t deserve her situation may be truly powerful. This is the time for all of us to step up for friends in need.