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11 tips if your friend is a victim of domestic violence in the West
by Abdul Malik Mujahid
If you have a friend who is the victim of domestic violence, you're not alone. Relatives and friends are those who victims will confide in in these situations. But don't feel helpless as your relative or friend confides in you about the abuse. There are practical things you can do to help at this time of trial and difficulty. Here are some tips:
This is one of the most important things you can do. Remember that they are confiding in you while they have kept this problem a secret from others. Find a quiet place where you can talk safely and without interruption. Encourage them to talk about the abuse.
2. Believe them
Do not deny the abuse is happening. Do not judge them. Show them that you support them no matter what they decide to do about their relationship, whether it is staying with or leaving the abusive partner on a temporary or permanent basis or not doing anything about it.
3. Respect them
Show your friend that you respect their ability to handle this situation and their ability to cope with it. This can help them regain their own strength and build confidence to deal with it.
4. Respect their feelings
In cases of domestic violence, victims need their feelings validated. To ignore the abuse and sweep it under the rug is wrong and will only serve to keep their feelings inside and the problem to worsen. This is dangerous and destructive.
5. Do not advise
As difficult as it is, it is necessary to do this, especially when your friend first confides in you. The best thing to do is to help your friend reach their own decisions about what to do and when to do it. Help them identify their own options and consequences which might follow. For instance, mention that if the victim does not seek help, she is exposing her kids to abuse as well. Just spell out the options without forcing her to take a specific step.
6. Tell them they are not to blame
This is important because blame is how the abuser often justifies the abuse. Let them know that no one has the right to abuse another. Tell them what you have learned about spousal violence and cycle of violence. Remind them that Allah does not allow a man to abuse his wife.
7. Discuss safety
Talk to your friend about shelters and other safe places. Discuss how to obtain their services and tell them about creating a protection plan (see tips for victims of domestic violence in the West for more details).
8. Encourage them to seek help
Persuade them not to ignore the problem and to deal with it for the sake of themselves and their family. Accompany them if they need your support to places like shelters, legal aid, etc.
If you have an Imam you can trust to deal with this situation appropriately, encourage them to seek his help first. It is more likely your friend will feel comfortable with an Imam and an Islamic center than in mainstream social services.
9. Do NOT speak to the partner
This is a big no-no and can worsen the situation. If the abusing partner finds out you know about the situation, he will most likely get even angrier and take it out on the abused partner more than before, as a punishment for telling others about the problem.
10. Keep in contact with them
One of the things abusers do is isolate their victims from family and friends. This makes it easier to perpetrate the domestic violence, since there is no one around to object. Keep in contact with your friend as much as possible, by phone or e-mail at least, to ensure that she has a link with the outside world and that she is not alone, suffering in silence.
11. Dua is connecting with the All-Powerful
Dua (prayer) connects you with the most Powerful one, our Creator. Please make special prayers for your friend who is going through this turmoil. Our beloved Prophet has said that your prayer for a person increases love between you and that person. May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him.
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