"If the police show up and they don't arrest him for whatever reason, that could be a really bad situation for her," Ray-Jones said. An alternative is to offer the victim a safe place to stay or a referral to a shelter.
Even if the victim doesn't listen the first or second or eighth time, it's important not to give up, Ray-Jones said. The mantra: "I respect your decision. Here are some tips to keep you safe."
If an abuse victim feels judged by a friend or family member, he or she could lose trust, withdraw and become skeptical of talking about the abuse to anyone else.
When Krystal's sister, Renee, left her second abusive relationship, she turned to her family, who had stuck by her and helped her move away from her first abuser.
During that year-long relationship, Renee often refused help but wouldn't get angry when the family offered, Krystal said.
"I have no doubt that she could have survived on her own; she's a strong woman. I think the most important thing was that we validated her feeling that things weren't right," Krystal said.
Renee managed to extricate herself from her first abusive relationship, and according to Krystal, her new boyfriend was "so nice and welcoming when I visited. He seemed really sweet to her most of the time."
Then, Renee's boyfriend kicked her out of the house with no money. She needed a place to stay, so she picked up the phone and called their father again for help.
"She didn't give many details, just that she was kicked out of the house. Slowly, other details started coming through, but I think it took her a while to really accept that she was in an abusive situation," Krystal said.
It wasn't until much later that she mentioned to Krystal that he had even, at one point, threatened her with a gun.
Renee never pressed charges or called the police. She still has to keep in contact with her abuser because they share custody of their children. Her family is still behind her, even with the knowledge that they can't fix everything.
"I felt absolutely helpless," Krystal said. "The survivor has to be the one to take action and make decisions. It's not easy to admit that you can't just come to the rescue for your little sister."
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