- Let them know that the abuse is not their fault. Reassure them that they are not alone and that there is help and support out there.
- Be non-judgmental; there are many reasons why victims stay in abusive relationships. They may leave and return to the relationship many times.
- Encourage them to call a hotline like 1-800-799-SAFE.
- Remember that you can not rescue them; ultimately they have to to decide what they will do.
Learn more from The Hotline.
Reflecting on this reminded me of the time I joined my first moms' club: just before I joined, one of the moms killed herself (or, as they put it, "lost her battle with postpartum depression"). I think some members of the group blamed themselves for not recognizing the signs or doing more, which isn't helpful, but it did make me think about what I could do.
Here are some signs of PPD:
- Hopelessness about the situation getting better
- Refusal to eat, or binge eating
- Rage and resentment
- Lack of bonding to the baby
- Sense of numbness or disconnectedness
There are lots of resources for PPD sufferers (here's a state-by-state listing of support groups and a link to an online forum). If you think a friend has PPD, the best advice (based on my Internet research) is to physically be there for them, or call if you can't be there. Then encourage them to get help. And ask them what you can do for them. If nothing else, offer to hold the baby so they can take a shower or a nap. Bring them a meal. They probably won't turn either of those down.