Beyond the Mirror
Welcome to Beyond the Mirror’s website

If there is to be peace in the world there must be peace in the home.
Violence in the home is everyone’s problem.
Each of us must be part of the solution.
We must do all that we can in the time that we have.

This site provides:
  • A free e-book of poetry on psychological abuse; (click on book cover below)
  • Information on unhealthy/abusive relationships;
  • How we can help as individuals and as communities.
Our mission is to work for peace in homes by distributing information about unhealthy/violent relationships; suggesting ways to help individuals in such relationships; and empowering and affirming victim/survivors.

Thoughts about what you might say or do when a friend or relative is experiencing abuse at home
CONSIDERATIONS. No actions are guaranteed to be correct for each situation. Read the following, THEN make your own decisions as to what is appropriate. When in doubt, seek advice from family violence experts. Click on National Coalition Against Domestic Violence or the “Resources" tab for further information.

We are not always aware of it, but most of us know people who are experiencing physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse in personal relationships. It can be difficult for abuse victim/survivors to talk to others about abuse; she or he may only find courage once, and that is to speak with you.

You may feel you need to have a lot of answers to help this person or that you already have the answers. What is really important is to recognize the things you can and should do, as well as what you should not do and the boundaries you should not cross.

Finding helpful words and supportive actions when people disclose they are victims of family violence is a challenge. It is difficult to learn of another’s pain and/or to suppress personal feelings such as anger against the abuser or frustration with the victim/survivor who remains in the relationship. When the victim/survivor is the target of another’s frustration, the victim is re-victimized.

If you feel there may be some abuse happening, consider asking some thoughtful, caring questions. Victims tend to avoid disclosure of abuse, but they may make a tentative statement to someone they trust. They may say, “My husband won’t let me go,” or “My partner has quite a temper,” or “I am worthless.”

It may be helpful if you simply enter the door the person opens. Respond by asking, “Why do you say or think that?” or “Tell me what is happening?” or "How can I help?”

If your friend acknowledges an unhealthy or violent relationship, listen and believe.
Consider the following responses.

  • Be an active, respectful, supportive listener.
  • Listen thoughtfully with concern, objectivity and openness.
  • Allow the person to confide at her or his own pace; don’t force the issue.
  • Believe what you are told. Initially, victims may share pieces of their stories and minimize what is happening. They may fear not being believed, particularly if the abuser is a pillar of the church, a community leader, or a professional. Your acceptance of their story can be extremely helpful.
  • Avoid showing shock. It can cause more shame and embarrassment.
  • Don't blame the victim/survivor for what is happening.
  • Never underestimate fear or signs of potential danger.
When a victim/survivor discloses abuse, affirm her or him.
Comments that may be helpful:

  • You do not deserve this treatment.
  • You did not cause this to happen to you; it's not your fault.
  • I am so sorry this is happening to you.
  • You are a good person. You deserve to be treated with respect and kindness.
  • It must have taken a lot of courage to share this. Thank you for trusting me.
  • There is free, confidential help available in the community.
  • I will support you.
If your friend does not acknowledge any problems at home, consider the following responses.
  • Accept what you are told.
  • Take advantage of later opportunities to support or ask other questions.
  • Maintain confidentiality.
Consider the following: provide the victim/survivor with any of the following suggested options.
Remember, the victim/survivor is the one who must make the decisions. Click on "Resources".

  • Call a crisis line, speaking to someone anonymously can be of great help.
  • Contact a domestic abuse advocacy agency for free, confidential services. Many agencies have 24-hour crisis lines.
  • Seek individual counseling. Some counselors are skilled at working with spiritual needs as well as having expertise in family violence.
  • Get help from experts such as domestic violence advocacy agencies to help develop a safety plan. Their advocates are trained to help.
  • Join a support group.
  • Call law enforcement to report abuse. They can help file an order for protection.
  • Consider journaling as a way to process the feelings and experiences of abuse.
Challenge violence.
  • Say violence is not acceptable.
  • Abusers must be held accountable for their behavior.
  • Abusers must recognize they also need help.
If the victim/survivor is male:

There are services for men, but they are not as prevalent. Most domestic abuse agencies will provide phone crisis counseling and referral resources to males and females. Homosexual males may be best served in the long run by a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender agency (GLBT). (In Minnesota: Out Front Minnesota at 612-822-0127.) Click on "Resources."

Community resources available to victims of abuse can be invaluable by providing continued, informed support to the victim/survivor. They also frequently have been a lifeline that has ultimately helped to end the abuse. For more information click on “resources.” For information on teen dating violence see Teen Dating Violence.


We all hated him.
Didn't want to tell you.
Afraid you would get mad at us.
You always looked so sad.
The family kept quiet.
Bastard....we called him.
I thought the family liked him.
You laughed at his jokes.
You complimented him.

What if he had been beating me?
Would you have said nothing?
I wish you had told me it wasn't normal behavior;
Told me to seek out counseling;
Told him to shut the f--- up.
...why didn't they speak up?

- Jaymee Chanen, from Ruby Slippers,
Finding Your Way Home from Emotional Abuse.

North Star Press, St. Cloud, MN, 2008.
Reprinted with permission.
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