By Michaela Daphne
I DIDN’T know I was in an abusive relationship until I wasn’t in one anymore.
It was several months afterwards that I saw a billboard in the city that said, “Is he watching what you spend, is he telling you who to be friends with, is he telling you how to dress? Did you know this is abuse?”
I read it and did a double take, realising immediately that it described to a tee my previous relationship, and that I had been abused.
While I was in the midst of the relationship I knew I was unhappy and I wanted to get out but didn’t know how.
My parents had expressed their concerns but it only drove me away from them and nearer to him. And I didn’t have any friends anymore because he had become my whole life. I had nobody else to turn to.
Thankfully I knew God.
One day on my way home from his house I was driving up my street, violently sobbing. I cried out, “I can’t do this anymore. Help me. Please, help.”
Within two weeks I had attempted to break up with him (unsuccessfully) and he’d threatened to end his life.
I decided to share everything with my parents. I woke up the next morning to hear my dad on the phone saying, “You’re not allowed to see Michaela again.”
And I didn’t see him again.
I assert all of this to the intervention of God at my plea.
But not everyone is so lucky to have a loving family. Not everyone is so lucky to have been brought up to live a life of faith, to be able to turn to God.
Those who witness a loved one in a bad relationship are often at a loss as to how to help them.
As someone from the other side, I’ve put together some tips that would have helped me whilst I was in that relationship. Hopefully they will help you help your loved one:
- Do not judge her or give her the appearance that you are judging her. And definitely do not tell her what to do. She will probably distance herself from you.
- Continue your relationship with her as usual and be intentional about spending time with her. Take an interest in her whole life, not just her life in regards to her boyfriend. Eventually (hopefully) she will break up with her boyfriend and need a support network to lean on.
- Be an example of real love. Whether that is in your relationship with others or your relationship with her. Show her how she deserves to be treated and how she is loved just as she is.
- If any intervention is going to happen, make sure it is by an older male figure – a father, uncle, brother or teacher. Make sure she knows they will protect her no matter what.
- If she is of the faith, invite her to Church events with you – especially daily Mass and Reconciliation. If she is not of the faith, wisely discern whether to invite her to Church events and which ones. Social events are a good starting point.
- Pray for her and ask others to do so.
- Do not forget that God loves her more than you do. He hasn’t forgotten about her and has a greater plan for her life than you can imagine. Trust that He is taking care of the situation.