How do you help someone who is being abused, but who doesn’t want help?


How can I help someone who is being physically abused when they don't want to be helped? I tried calling the cops in the past before with a former neighbor of mine. This woman was abused by her husband every day for over two years and acted as if no one had hurt her. One day this man broke her arm, and I called the cops and she didn't even open up the door for them. After that, I didn't call them anymore. Eventually, those neighbors moved out.

Now I'm dealing with a different couple who are also my neighbors. This woman is also being abused almost every day by her boyfriend or husband. This has gone on for about two months, but I am afraid to call the cops because I don't want to put myself or my family in danger. In addition, I feel that if she really wanted help, she would have called the cops herself. I feel like all I can do is pray. I feel helpless about this situation.  I feel emotional, physically and spiritually drained from this.

I talked to a close friend of mine about this situation and he told me to just move out. He said that I basically live in a ghetto area and stuff like that happens all the time. By sticking my nose in other people's business I could get my family or myself hurt. So what do I do now?

How do I help her? What if I decided to go to this woman and ask her if she wants me to help her and she gets mad at me for sticking my nose in her business and then she refuses my help.

Also, I'm not married yet, but because I live around people who are involved in this type of situation, I want to know if I ever get married to a man who hits or abuses me, then what should I do? Should I get a divorce or just separate from him?


People stay in abusive situations for various reasons. They might feel trapped with no options available but to take the abuse. Perhaps they fear what might happen if they leave. But some remain because they feel hopeless or worthless and they stay because they feel they deserve the ill-treatment. And strange as it might seem, some stay out of love, thinking that if they hang on just a little longer they can change the abuser into the nicer person they see, though the rest of the world doesn't. They justify it to themselves by pointing out that it doesn't happen all the time and most of the time the abuser is really nice to them.

The problem of calling the police is that it doesn't address the problem of why the person chooses to stay. Rarely is a person locked in their own homes. Almost always the victim can walk out if she wanted to do so, but something holds her back. About the best you can do is be friendly to the victim. Offer a listening ear and give reasonable advice when asked. But be prepared to hear warped views of reality because few victims truly want to face the reality of their situation. You will be told that bruises and breaks are the victim's fault because she was clumsy. You can mildly express your disbelief, but if you try to force the victim to admit to the reality she will usually run. Give offers of help in generalities, "Well, if he ever does hit you, you and the kids can come over here and we'll find you another place to stay."

One thing that greatly helps is letting a person know there is hope; that it doesn't have to be this way. When David was mistreated by Saul, he found comfort in God, "Be merciful to me, O God, for man would swallow me up; fighting all day he oppresses me. My enemies would hound me all day, for there are many who fight against me, O Most High. Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), in God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?" (Psalm 56:1-4). Sadly many women's groups blame religion for making some women feel they are trapped in an abusive relationship, but true knowledge of God gives a person hope, peace, and courage to stand for what is right.

The answer regarding what if you marry an abuser, is actually, "Don't." It is rare for a person who has dated another for a while not to see signs of anger that aren't controlled, drunkenness, tendencies to use force even when it isn't necessary, and the like. What generally happens is that the person excuses it, ignores it, or, worse, thinks that after they marry they'll be able to change the other. You have to realize that before marriage, a person is usually putting their best side forward so you will want to get married. If that best side is flawed, don't expect to find something better after the pressure is off. This is just one reason you should not be in a rush to bind yourself to another until you really know what that person is like.

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