my friend is getting verbally abused

dear heather,

I think that my friend is getting verbally abused. Her mother calls her a “hoochie” and a “little ho” for even waving at a guy. I’m not really sure what to do about this. Can you please help me?

I think you’re on the right track: This kind of name-calling certainly seems abusive. I imagine that it really hurts your friend’s feelings to have someone who is supposed to love her treat her so badly.One of the best things you can do for your buddy is to offer her support and encouragement. Acknowledging her feelings is important. Just having another person say, “Hey, that’s just not right. That must really hurt,” will help her to see that it’s okay to stand up for herself. It may also help to provide a reality check, to point out her mother’s over-reactions. They might seem obvious, but your friend may be so used to being called names that she may have come to believe what her mother says on some level.

As a first step, your friend might try telling her mom just how much these put-downs affect her. But someone as insensitive as her mother may not listen. If this is the case, encourage your friend to see a school counselor–sometimes parents will listen to an adult outside of the family, someone in an “official” position. Such a person would not only be able to offer emotional support, but might also be able to speak with the mother–directly and tactfully–and to provide referrals to other helpful resources.

I hope the situation improves for your buddy soon. It’s good that she has a friend like you!

take care,
heather


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