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Ask Abbie: Seeking help for close friend in need

Published 10:19am Sunday, February 10, 2013

by Abbie Long

Question: One of my close friends has recently gone through a very difficult divorce.

Her husband who also abused their son abused her. She is always depressed and feels guilty for not leaving sooner.

She agrees counseling may help, but says she’s too “embarrassed to see a shrink.” What is the best way for me to help her get help. I hate to see her in this condition.

Answer: An elderly man sits in his rocking chair on the front porch. Although it’s 90 degrees, he’s wrapped in a blanket to avoid a chill.

Despite his family urging him to get an antiviral treatment from the flu, he remained unwilling to pay for the doctor’s visit and too proud to accept a handout. The next week, after many long hours in the intensive care unit, the family is making funeral arrangements.

If only he would have known he may have gotten help sooner.

A young budding athlete takes the field despite his coach’s urging to rest one more week to reduce risk of further injury. Two minutes into the game, he went down.

Carted off the field and evaluated, he would not return today or next season. If only he would have known, he may have accepted the preemptive help offered by his coaches and been able to resume the life of a rising star.

Regardless the severity of an ill or injured person’s case, his decision not to address his issues early can be a result of many factors including a lack of knowledge, limited funds, or a simple belief that “I can fight this on my own.”

Your friend’s refusal is likely a result of shame and lack of self-confidence and self-worth. She has been brainwashed for years by an abusive master of manipulation to believe she is getting what she deserves and has nothing to offer other than pain. Until convinced otherwise, your friend will see no reason to seek help.

By taking initiatives to help your friend realize she is not at fault, you will begin undoing her brainwashing and boost her self-confidence. One way to accomplish this is to help her find a support group for abused women. Suggest going with her.

Another approach is to find a book written by an abused woman with a story of hope and healing. Give it to your friend along with her favorite bag of tea or coffee.

Suggest a date where you also bring a book, and can sip and read together. Exposing her to others who have been through and overcome similar situations will gradually and correctly redefine her accepted definition of normal.

Throughout this reconstructive initiative, reinforce your commitment to forever remain by her side. Also remind her often of the truth; she is a good person. The abuse was not her fault and she should stop questioning herself.

Lastly speak out loud in front of her by saying, “I reject the negative effect your husband had on you and will no longer allow him to rob another second of your precious time.”

Eventually she will say “I agree.” Right now you have to be her strong tower so she can repay the favor in your time of need.

Keep your frustrations under control by accepting the fact her healing must be done at her pace and according to her rules if the results are to last. Alongside your unwavering support, watch expectantly and excitedly for your friend’s pathways toward healing to soon open and her confidence to gradually return.

Don’t give up. One day she will stand as victor saying “if only I known then what I know now.”

Abbie Long is a Franklin native and advice columnist for The Tidewater News. Submit your questions to askabbie@tidewaternews.com.

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