It can be really hard to decide what to do if your friend is being abused. We help you sort out what to do next.
It can be really hard to decide what to do if your friend is being abused. There's no easy black-and-white answer. Take the following into consideration:
How do you know your friend is being abused? Different people can have different definitions of "abuse." It's hard to tell if your friend is in trouble based on some of the information you get. Think about your sources. Who's telling you about the abuse? Have you ever seen evidence of abuse? If you're not sure whether your friend is in danger or not, sometimes simply asking is the best way to go.
Run it by an adult. There's nothing wrong with getting some guidance from people with more life experience than you. Lots of kids like to try to tackle their problems by themselves, which is understandable and not a bad idea in some cases. But when it comes to someone's life or well-being, get an adult involved. Parents are good people to turn to, as are teachers and school counselors.
Point them in the right direction. Although you may want to sweep in and stop someone from hurting your friend, this is probably not realistic or safe to do on your own. Therefore, try to get your friend to talk about the abuse with the right person. Point them towards trustworthy adults or even just recommend the police or the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services at 800-25-ABUSE (800-252-2873) directly.
Be a good friend. Police officers, social workers, counselors, and doctors can help abused kids, but none of them can replace a friend. Keep your friend included, ask them how they're doing, redirect them to other sources of help when they need it, and just be yourself. Simply being a friend is the main role you play, and it's an important one.
Take the initiative. Kids are restricted from doing all kinds of things in our culture because they're not 18 yet. When it comes to abuse, though, the Department of Children and Family Services will listen to you and take you seriously. If you're really worried about a friend, there's nothing wrong with picking up the phone and just letting someone know. Make sure you have as much information as you can get.
Again, if you're just not sure exactly what you should do, give us a call or talk it through with an adult. We're always here if you need us!
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