DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend was a little tipsy the other night and confessed to me that her current boyfriend has gotten violent with her in the past. She assured me that it happened only one time and that it was minor, but I’m furious. A man should never put his hands on a woman under any circumstances. She said that if I repeated what she told me, she would never forgive me. I don’t think that I have probable cause to report her boyfriend to the police. I genuinely don’t know what to do. My friend will absolutely not break up with him. I’m feeling helpless and scared for what’s to come. What should my next step be? -- Scared for My Friend
DEAR SCARED FOR MY FRIEND: It’s good that your friend disclosed this frightening information to you. At least she has opened a door to communicating about her pain. As hard as it will be, you should not attempt to intervene. Instead, do your best to be a supportive friend to her. Avoid badmouthing her boyfriend, though you shouldn’t praise him either. Whenever you have an opportunity, encourage her to do things that will build her self-esteem. Talk to her about her hopes and dreams for her life and what strategy she wants to develop to reach them.
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 800-799-SAFE, you can help your friend by pointing to resources. You can suggest that you will take her to see an attorney or a women’s shelter. You can point her toward making a “safety plan,” which can help her to escape to safety if she needs it. For more information, go to thehotline.org/support-others/ways-to-support.