How Do I Talk to My Friend About Her Abusive Boyfriend? | Ask the Rev. | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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How Do I Talk to My Friend About Her Abusive Boyfriend?

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Dear Reverend,

A good friend of mine broke up with her verbally and physically abusive boyfriend earlier this year, but she's been spending time with him again. She says she has forgiven him and he's changed, but I don't believe it. She's a grown woman and can do as she pleases, but I'm afraid she's going to get hurt again. How do I talk to her about it without coming across as a buttinsky or damaging our friendship?

Fretting Friend (female, 42)

Dear Fretting Friend,

When any kind of abuse is involved — physical, mental, whatever — there's no time for pussyfooting around. I know it's a touchy subject, but you need to honestly express your concerns. There's no guarantee she'll take any advice, but if you stay silent and the abuse starts again, I can guarantee you're going to feel really crappy.

If you're worried about what to say, do some research about domestic violence to prepare yourself for the discussion. The websites thehotline.org and vtnetwork.org are two good places to start.

It may be best to have the talk face-to-face, but if you think you could be more direct over the phone, schedule a time for that. Don't make the conversation about how awful you think this guy is. Nobody likes a Judy Judgington. Focus on her. Tell her you cherish your friendship and want her to be happy, but her relationship with this man is causing you concern due to the past abuse.

Don't worry about this causing a rift between the two of you. If you let her know you're there for her no matter what, this might just bring you closer together.

Good luck and God bless,

The Reverend

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