Sweet Cause: When Someone Shows You Who They Are, Believe Them

Oprah says:  “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”  I believe she learned that lesson from Maya Angelou.

What the heck does this have to do with anything?

Well, people show you who they are, eventually.  Many of us spend quite a bit of time trying to ignore their very blatant signs.  Fact still remains, though, that they’re still showing us who they are.

If someone you love {and who “loves” you} is hurting you, either physically or emotionally, they are showing you who they are.  And it is imperative that you listen.

Often, though, it is difficult for someone in an abusive situation to get out of that situation on his or her own.  What can you do to help?

Ways You Can Help


  • Don’t assume you’re wrong or that it’s none of your business.  It’s better to be safe than sorry; if you suspect someone is in an abusive situation, go with your gut.  You may be the only chance this person has for escaping the relationship.
  • Talk to the individual in private.  The last thing this future survivor needs is to be pointed out in public.
  • Express your concern and point out warning signs you’ve noticed.  If you judge the individual, they are more likely to close up and resist your assistance.  Gently point out things you’ve noticed that you feel portray a potentially abusive situation.  Sometimes people aren’t even aware of the situation they’re in until it’s pointed out to them.
  • Listen.  Sometimes simply listening to the individual and offering validation is all that is necessary to enable the person to open up to help.
  • Offer assistance.  Learn about the domestic violence resources available in your area and offer specific assistance to the individual.  Inform them of safe houses, hotlines, and other resources and ask if they’d like further assistance in conjunction with these.  Here are a few resources to get you started:  Domestic Abuse Hotline for Men and Women, Domestic Violence Awareness Handbook, National Domestic Violence Hotline,and the State Coalition List.
  • Respect their decisions.  You can’t force someone to leave an abusive relationship.  Judging them and ignoring them if they don’t do what you think they should will not help them.
  • Build the person up.  The individual is likely suffering from low self-esteem.  Help the person see his or her worth and courage.
  • Help the person protect themselves and think about what they can do.  Help the person devise an emergency plan, develop a code word for when things have escalated, find out what legal and law enforcement options are available, or help prepare an escape bag.
  • Offer practical assistance.  Offer to cook meals, watch the children, or any other things he or she might need assistance with.
  • Maintain regular contact, even after the person is out of the situation.  They need help through all phases of the process.

Remember, knowing what to do before you ever find yourself in this type of situation is important; you could help save a life.

Do you have any advice for assisting someone who is in an abusive situation?