Monday, January 22, 2001
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Posted on: Monday, January 22, 2001

Some advice on helping an abused friend

Program warns teens of dating abuse
Warning signs
Who to call

By Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Staff Writer

Teenagers are heavily influenced by their peers, making them an invaluable source of help for those in need.

But how?

Here are some tips from the experts if your friend is involved in an abusive relationship:

Look for the signs: Educators and advocates advise friends and parents to look for warning signs that this could signal a destructive relationship. (See list on Page D1.) "If these things are happening to young women, they’ll know immediately," Kreidman said.

Confront your friend: This isn’t easy, and you should explain that to her. "Tell her that this is complicated and that’s expected," Kreidman said. Tell her you’re worried about her, concerned about her safety and have noticed a change in her moods and behaviors. "Tell her she doesn’t have to be treated like that," Kreidman said. "It’s not love, and it could be dangerous." If you’re uncomfortable confronting her alone, get another friend involved.

Don’t minimize this: Many victims dismiss their abusers’ actions and behaviors, saying they can handle the situation. "Let her know you’re doing this (confronting her) because you’re afraid," Kreidman advised. "Say, It does happen, and I think it’s happening to you.’ "

Be prepared for denial: Many victims are convinced they’ve done something to deserve being treated this way. Expect denial. "One reason they don’t want to admit it is because they think it’s about them," Kreidman said. Victims may go inward and blame themselves.

Stay in touch: Keeping talking to her. Oftentimes her boyfriend may want to isolate her from her friends. "Be prepared that your friend won’t think . . . (that leaving him) is a good idea," Kreidman said. "But be available for her the moment she realizes you’re right. I want my friend to know I’m there for her no matter what. Don’t close the doors."

Don’t confront the abuser: "This isn’t safe," Kreidman said. He may retaliate against you or target you as somebody your friend should stay away from, she added. Worse yet, if he’s angry about being confronted, he may take it out on her.

Have a plan: "Understand how dangerous this is and take extra precautions," Chesney-Lind warned. "Don’t be predictable and (do) have an escape plan." Experts warn young women avoiding their abusers against going anywhere alone, especially to places he’s familiar with, such as your workplace or favorite hangout. Get her to notify her employer and co-workers. Not having that plan plagues Trisha Domingo when she thinks of her late sister being confronted in the parking lot at work: "I wish I were there, I wish I went to go pick her (Cherry Ann) up."

Get help: "When in doubt, call and ask questions," advised Kreidman. If the situation is beyond your control, it’s time to seek professional help. She advises women to talk to a domestic violence program first. They can help you figure out what steps you should take. depending on the situation. They can also help you obtain a temporary restraining order, still a useful option. "The TRO process is empowering to women and it’s worked," Chesney-Lind said. "The woman is naming the violence happening to her.

"This is an extremely dangerous experience," she added. "And, when you’re trying to leave, it’s the most dangerous."

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