It's hard to consider current events or to take a look back at pretty much any point in human history and not come to the conclusion that people are capable of doing terrible, even unconscionable things to one another. But it's different when someone you are close to—a parent, sibling, child, best friend, or mentor—is accused of committing an awful act. That's especially true when their behavior has inflicted pain on someone they ostensibly love. Even worse is when you also know and care for the victim.
Having conflicting emotions in this scenario is par for the course. How can you reconcile the friend or family member who means so much to you with the abusive person that their partner accuses them of being?
First, Get the Facts
In recent years, legislation has tightened the policies and punishments connected with domestic abuse, both physical and emotional. Our societal default is to believe and support the victim. Unfortunately, that bias has been taken for granted by women (victims of domestic violence are largely, although not exclusively, female) who have an ax to grind with a current or former significant other. They can make false accusations of abuse, which essentially serve to manipulate the courts into penalizing that person. What is their aim in doing so? To enact revenge after a split, to extract more child support from the accused, or even to obtain sympathy (however dysfunctional it may be).
If possible, speak to the accuser before making any conclusions. You may end up supporting a friend or family member you think are guilty for any one of a number of reasons. However, the facts of the case—to the extent that you can disentangle it from the conflicting narratives—will play a substantial role in the amount and type of support you can give. That way, no matter what your course of action is, you will be making an informed decision.
Second, Be A Sounding Board
Sometimes, the absolute best assistance you can provide for a friend or relative in need is simply to listen. No doubt they have a lot on their mind, and much of their internal dialogue right now will take the form of remorse. They might be very critical of themselves for the wrong they've done and the hearts they've hurt. That can be tough to talk about. If you can offer a kind, non-judgmental ear, just listening without offering advice is an invaluable asset to them.
Encourage them to reflect on the circumstances and choices that led up to this violent, abusive incident. Ask open-ended questions like “What would you like to see happen in this situation?” or “How do you feel about that?” or “What would you say to me if the tables were turned?”
Decide How Much and What Kind of Support You'll Give
If you consider your love for that person unconditional, remind them of that to reassure them. If you're not that close, you might want to offer a different type of support—say, accompanying them to court or babysitting their kids to give them a break.
Offering support doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. And remember that support is not approval. It's more akin to “hate the sin, love the sinner.”
It's also a smart idea to set some boundaries. Tell them what amount and type of support they can expect from you, and articulate what you won't do. For example, maybe your relative or friend wants to go out drinking at a bar to forget his troubles and asks you to come along. They might want a shoulder to cry on at 3 a.m. or to borrow money for a lawyer. If you can and want to be their ride or die, that's fine; if you don't, don't expect them to be mind-readers.
A Long Legal Road Ahead
This individual likely has a long, possibly quite contentious road ahead as they navigate the court system. As valuable as your friendship is, it's also necessary to enlist legal help. That's where attorney Joseph D. Lento comes in. Attorney Lento and his team at the Lento Law Firm are caring, capable, and ready to broker the best possible solution for everyone involved.
Call today at 888-535-3686 or click here to learn more.
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