Are you frustrated with someone you care about who appears to be the victim of a perpetrator? Do you find yourself getting angry for this person?
We all have examples of these situations and we often struggle with what to say, how much time to spend with the victim, and how to continue being their friend. Some common examples of these situations might be:
- Your best friend keeps bailing out his/her partner from the consequences of his/her addiction.
- Your parents keep giving money to your clearly addicted sibling.
- Your child rationalizes the emotional abuse he/she is receiving daily from his/her spouse.
- Your best friend always has a story for why she can’t do things with you and/or might have questionable bruises.
- One parent continues to rationalize the abusive behavior of the other parent.
What are some steps to take if you do not want to tell these people you never want to see them again? Let me first say these situations are not easy. Remember, even with these tools, every situation is different. It takes wisdom and patience to figure out which conversation might be the best one to use, in what situation, and at what time.
Depending on which situation you are in, give yourself time to develop compassion. Compassion, for this discussion, is the ability to be concerned for someone’s suffering with kindness and tolerance.
If you suffered consequences as a child because of abuse that was not stopped (e.g. one parent denying the abuse of another), anger will be the easier emotion for you. When you are safe and not at the effect of the abuse, you begin to find a way to understand how some people either cannot ask for help, think they have everything under control, may not see the behavior as abusive, and/or do not think they have the right to stand up to another’s bad behavior.
When you only hear about the abuse and you are not being abused, it will be easier for you to develop compassion. Understand the normal reaction will first be anger — “Why do you let that happen to you? Why can’t you see how you are being used?” Once you have some form of compassion, the other interventions will be easier.
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