General Question

candacewells4's avatar

Would you tell someone that your friend is abused?

Asked by candacewells4 (83points) June 22nd, 2009

I have this friend. She’s been abused by her parents for years. She always has bruises on her, and I’m never sure if they’re from her parents or sports, because she bruises easily. Her parents give her everything she asks for when it comes to money and materials, but they don’t give her the love normal parents give their children. They hit her, but I don’t know how bad. I know it takes a huge toll on her emotionally, to the point where she thinks she is a horrible person and doesn’t deserve to live or be happy, etc. All her life, they have told her she is a failure, has ruined their lives, and so on. She does things so nice for them and tries so hard to be the perfect child. She loves her parents, but I know they treat her worse than she lets on. I’m not sure if I should get her help, because I don’t know the extent of her abuse. What would you do?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

26 Answers

Supacase's avatar

I would talk to your guidance counselor. S/he can talk to your friend and hopefully get a better idea of the severity of the situation. It doesn’t have to be revealed that you are the one who said anything unless that is what you want.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

My gut reaction is that I would but I’m not entirely sure what the repercussions of that act would be. My immediate concern would be for the welfare of my friend. I think I would definitely tell someone if someone I cared about was being abused.

Judi's avatar

Can you talk to a school counselor? This is to much for you to handle on your own.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Bless you for wanting to help your friend. The most important thing is to be there for her to listen when she needs it or needs a place to go. Keep telling her when she puts herself down that she is a worthy person and that what her parents are doing and saying isn’t right at all. Emotional abuse carries longer-lasting repercussions because it makes people believe lies about themselves for years and years unless someone can intervene and counteract those messages as soon as possible.

Yes, I would tell someone in authority, a teacher or guidance counselor at school, or perhaps your pastor if you both go to the same church, to at least talk to your friend. Tell a trustworthy adult at school everything you just wrote here. They won’t betray your confidence to her parents. Good luck.

bea2345's avatar

Tell somebody in authority. Do it now.

Likeradar's avatar

Talk to someone. @aprilsimmel had some great suggestions for who you can talk to.

If you’re wrong, no great loss. If you’re right, you could be saving your friend.

filmfann's avatar

@Likeradar You said: If you’re wrong, no great loss.
You couldn’t be more wrong. The sting and stigma of having been investigated by Child Protective Services can last years.
My advice is to talk to your friend, and see if she wants you to call someone. There is damage in all directions, and you need to be careful!
God be with you.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

How close is your friend to becoming a legal adult and being able to get out on her own or at least out from the parents’ home? Telling authority figures rarely works out that well unless she’s being beaten so badly that a group home or foster care would be welcome. It’s not right what is happening to her but out on the streets or in questionable homes, she’s going to still get beaten and maybe worse. Some states allow a minor to file for legal emmancipation by age 16 if they can show the ability to support themselves.

bea2345's avatar

There is no graceful way to help your friend. You should speak to someone in authority: a teacher, a counselor, if necessary, the police. There are those whose job it is to mind these things. They are trained. At worst, you will have alerted people to a bad situation; at best, you will have enabled a solution.

Jeruba's avatar

I am wondering why none of these posts advises candacewells4 to speak first to her own parents. Couldn’t they help steer her to the right authority in her community and maybe even help her with the conversation? At the very least, shouldn’t they know what their daughter is getting involved in? We would hope they would support her and back her up.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

What I think is funny is how many people assume some “authority” out there is going to make the girl’s life better. Foster homes are rarely ideal, most teens end up instead in group homes which are awful and if they don’t fit in there then juvenile hall or being on the streets is next. Nice neighbors, extended family or parents of other kids don’t open their doors and make everything ok.

EmpressPixie's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence: Nice neighbors, extended family, and parents of other kids do sometimes open their doors, lives, and homes to friends in need.

I would absolutely suggest talking to your parents. They might surprise you—with advice or in other ways. Just about everyone I know has either taken in a spare kid at some point or been taken in as a spare kid. Friends and community are one of the world’s strongest points.

And even if your parents can’t really help, they can certainly point you in the right direction or help you talk it out a bit so that you know what you want to do.

filmfann's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence Exactly right. And the foster care system dumps the kids on the streets on their 18th birthday, and they are ill prepared for what comes next.

Jeruba's avatar

In the U.S., at 18 they have at least been exposed to 12 years of free schooling. Even an inferior educational system gives students many opportunities they can take if they choose to.

susanc's avatar

EmpressPixie is right. We “opened our home“to a lot of kids whose homes weren’t workable. They arrived mostly through my husband’s bio-kids who noticed them and
offered to bring them home for dinner. One stayed till he grew up and we adopted him.
This seems like such an obvious thing to do….

atlantis's avatar

You should talk to a person in authority, like your parents or a trusted teacher, about what you can do to stop or help. If you get involved by yourself, it could end up hurting the both of you.

MissAusten's avatar

Talk to your parents if you can, talk to a school counselor. You don’t even have to say who you are talking about, just find out what can/will happen if the situation is reported and investigated. The policies may vary from state to state.

When I worked in childcare, we had yearly training on mandatory reporting. Part of the training involved a description of the investigation process, and we were told by the CFS worker who attended the training that they always ask the parents for contact information of nearby relatives or close friends (a support system is how he put it) because they see that as an option to consider before resorting to foster care or a group home. He also said that the child is only removed from the home if they have reason to believe the child is in immediate danger.

From what we were told, the investigation includes interviewing the parents, the child, the child’s teachers, and/or the child’s doctor. If the investigation shows reason for concern, they don’t just whisk the child away but will first try counseling and other options. Also, the parents have rights, such as to deny the CFS workers the right to speak to other children in the family (however, I think I remember him saying that CFS has the right to talk to the child involved without the parents’ knowledge or consent).

If you do report suspected abuse, you can ask to remain anonymous to the family, but I’m not sure if you can not tell the “authorities” your name or relationship to the family.

So, learn about the process and maybe visit the website for your state’s CFS, or CPS, or whatever it’s called there. Talk to your friend about what she would like to have happen. Maybe she doesn’t want her parents in trouble but would benefit from talking to an adult she feels she can trust. It’s a weighty decision, no doubt about it, and your friend is lucky to have someone to care about her.

CMaz's avatar

I do not care if it costs your “friendship”.
You have to tell and it has to stop. Abuse, leaves scars that are deep and are hard to see on the surface.
Abused individuals become mothers, fathers and “friends”. Other people can get and will get hurt.
But, if they are aware of it early enough (or at any stage of life) it can make a profound difference in the quality of their life and the lives of others.

Likeradar's avatar

@filmfann I would certainly never feel good about wrongly suspecting child abuse. However, I’d rather be wrong 100 times if it meant one abused child was helped. Maybe my wording was wrong, but I still believe suspected abuse should be reported. I would never suggest doing only what an abused child wants me to do and not what my heart tells me I should.

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes, the police and the child protective services / youth welfare offices. Actually, it’s your duty not to be silent.

Open's avatar

@ChazMaz it matters big time if it cost friendship! @candacewells4 you may be one of few people who are there for her in this time of need and you don’t want to jeopardize that. Here are the steps of action I would advise:

First- talk to your parents, tell them your friend has a rough home life and ask them if it’s okay if she stays with you when things go bad. (Keep in mind that this offer must remain open 24/7 in order for to be a viable option. Also keep in mind if your friend is escaping from a fight, she might be very upset and therefore unable to drive. In other words, make sure your parents understand that if they want to help, they have to be willing to do what it takes, even if it means driving all the way to her house at 3 in the morning).
Second- Talk to your friend about being safe. Assure her that she should always be and feel safe. Make sure she understands that she needs a safe house when things go down and (if your house isn’t an option) help her find somewhere to go. Also think of safe places to go in the house (avoid rooms with no exits) and plan where she will go immediately if there is a fight.

Thirdly – Talk to your friend about calling for help. Help her make a list of safe people to call and recommend memorizing all these numbers. Establish a code word or sign so that family and friends know when to call for help when she can not. (This has happened to me before- if you come right out with calling the cops they will likely steal the phone from you and it gets worse. As opposed to calling a friend and having a seemingly innocent phone call.)
Last- Keep the number of CPS and the local authorities in your cellphone and posted near the phones at your house along with your friends address (you should memorize her address, but if she calls the house make sure your family knows the code word or phrase and they understand what to do next).

Don’t be afraid to call for help. If your friend calls and doesn’t want to call the authorities, you need to recognize when there is a legit threat and when there isn’t. If she calls upset, make sure to ask her the details of the fight and advise calling CPS or the cops (if she says she doesn’t want to, ask her if she wants you to call). Also understand that when people get very emotionally upset a part of the brain shuts down which effects your logic. In other words, your friend may not recognize (in the moment) that she should call some one.Study up on recognizing the signs of abuse so you know when you should call. Overall, do your best.You sound like a wonderful friend. Don’t get discouraged. You can help her through this! ^_^ Best of luck to you both.

CMaz's avatar

I knew a friend, she was/is big time abused. She figured out how to see it as ok and normal in order to get through life. She was a sweetheart and so eager to please.
Her “friends” were more appreciative of the attention she gave them then her well being. So ya know what?
They said nothing. Or ignored the signs. They had a good thing too. Just like the abusive assholes that controlled here life.

I was her friend, I am still here friend. But I would not play along, I stood firm and expressed my opinion. With facts and solid information.
We do not talk any more. Her choice, not mine. You see, for her to clearly understand the abuse in her life she would have to look at herself. She was not going to do that.
Since I did not want to play along I was out of the picture.
One thing is for sure, she cant say she did not know. As much as I miss her friendship, I did the right thing or I would not be any different then the abusers in her life.

Open's avatar

@ChazMaz I’m sorry you lost a friend. However, you have to be careful not to jump to conclusions about a friend’s situation. This why I advise studying up on recognizing when you should call for help and when you should just let them vent. From an outside perspective it may seem obvious that what is going on in her life is wrong, but when you’re actually living it, it’s much harder to recognize. Your parents raised you and it’s guaranteed that not all her memories are negative. When it comes to calling the cops on your own parents, it’s really hard. Even when abused (not for all cases) children who grew up with it, think it’s normal. They don’t recognize the signs as easily as outsiders do. You can’t force people to look at themselves and find their own faults and problems in their life with no help. Stand by your friends and help them through rough times. Once again @ChazMaz I’m sorry you lost a friend, I understand that you did your best and that she was the one that cut off the relationship not you. It’s unfortunate for her because I know you tried to help.

In the end I understand that it is really up to the individual to decide how to help, sometimes calling the authorities right away is the right thing to do and sometimes it’s not. All anyone can do is their best.

atlantis's avatar

@ChazMaz I hope you get back together with your friend. This is not how you should end a good friendship.

I don’t agree that you will be like the rest of he abusers in her life if you stay her friend. I can’t tell sitting from here, but I know that your friend wants you to be there for her deep down. And you should be there when she’s finally ready to make a change. In the meanwhile make her understand slowly and gently, don’t try to force anything on her or get into dramatics, and make her see the options available to her for help and recovery.

The only challange you will have is to stop yourself from inadverdently hurting yourself too. If that’s the reason you ended it, I can understand and if she was a real friend she would too. That is the key to making her realize why she needs to figure herself out.

CMaz's avatar

Thank you so much. The kind advice that has been given to me means a lot. Honestly, reading over what has been wrote, I had to hold back the tears.

I do believe, and I know, she has good memories. I really was a good man to her. I also know she is struggling with her demons. So much so that she cant have me in her life. That process of figuring herself out.

I also believe that she knows I will always be there for her, when and if she ever wants to contact me again.

atlantis's avatar

Best of luck to you and your friend :)

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther