NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Q: My friend is dating a guy who I think is emotionally abusive. She rarely brings it up, but it's quite obvious to me. How do I get her to leave him?
A: I understand your desire to protect your friend. However, she needs to make her own decisions. If she's already feeling bullied by her boyfriend, she doesn't need your critical voice to join in.
Your primary role is to listen without judgment. She needs to speak her mind without fear of being criticized or censored.
I would caution you in pushing her to "accept" that she's in an emotionally abusive relationship. This is a very difficult, very painful process, which is deeply personal. If it is true, she will need to take her own time to discover it.If she expresses profound helplessness or wishes to take action but doesn't know how, be ready with ample resources including numbers of a highly qualified therapist, help hotlines or information regarding support groups. If she does ask directly for advice, be clear and concise:
The abuse is not her fault.
Acting differently toward him won't change anything.
She is not alone.
There are ways to get help.