Special Reports

Eight ways to help an abused friend

If you suspect a friend is in a controlling or violent relationship, it's difficult to help. Domestic violence counselors say it often takes seven attempts for a victim to leave a relationship. That can be frustrating for those who want their loved one to get out sooner.

But don't give up, counselors say. Here are some things to do:

•Listen to the victim.

•Give the victim three key assurances: "You don't deserve this"; "This is not your fault"; and "I believe you."

•Tell the victim you think he or she might be in danger.

•Give the victim phone numbers of domestic violence resources, such as the statewide domestic violence hot line, 1-800-562-6025.

•Call the hot line and ask what you can do to help your friend.

•Don't tell the victim what to do. Abusers often prevent victims from making decisions. Telling the victim what to do could sound controlling, like the abuser.

•Ask the victim where he or she would go if he or she decided to leave. Help her or him think about making a plan.

•If you see or hear evidence of abuse, call 911.

Five places to get help

Shelters and hot lines:

•Statewide Domestic Violence Hot Line: 1-800-562-6025

•Pierce County Domestic Violence Helpline: 253-798-4166; 1-800-764-2420; TDD: 253-798-6050

•YWCA Women's Shelter: 253-383-2593

•Family Renewal Shelter for Battered Women and Children: 253-475-9010

•Pierce County Clerk's Office (press 4 for domestic violence protection/anti-harassment orders): 253-798-7455

On the Net

•Myths about domestic violence: cityofseattle.org/police/ Programs/DV/dvmyths.htm

•The City of Tacoma's Web site on domestic violence, safety planning and community resources: www.cityoftacoma.org/ default.asp?main=/34humanrights/Default.asp (click on "Domestic Violence")

•Making a safety plan: www. domesticviolence.org/plan.html

•Essays, questionnaires and resources on domestic violence assembled by Oprah Winfrey's staff: www.oprah.com/tows/ pastshows/200310/tows_past_ 20031016.jhtml

Lisa Kremer, The News Tribune