is not your sympathy or pity – it only lowers her equally battered self esteem
Not financial assistance – Before asking for financial grant, she needs to have enough courage to utilize it.
No legal discourse – she perhaps already knows that abuse is illegal and that she can file a court case against it.
No I-told-you-so sermons– she made a wrong choice (or perhaps had no choice at all) and is now paying dearly for that.
No taking-sides even if it is in her favor – she can make out when it is a fake support and when it is not.
No path-enlightenment / imposition of your decisions on her – She knows her condition better than you do.
No shrugging off her confessions about abuse as attention seeking techniques – No self respecting woman would do that.
What does she want??
She needs you to give her a patient hearing.
She needs you to tell her stories of courage and strength.
She needs you to be able to relate to her pain.
She needs to know that there are ways out.
She needs to know that despite whatever her abuser might say or do, she is not as bad as what he/she claims her to be.
She needs you to trust her.
Domestic abuse is a harsh reality. And more often than not, abusers are gentle and kind people in their other avatar. The least you can do is let them know that they are not alone in this and can do a lot to get out of it. Divorce is just one of those options. There are other ways possible. Involving family is one of that. His/her family needs to know the true nature of the person concerned and support the victim. If the victim is unfortunate enough to get that, true friends would always be there to extend their love and support. One has to just reach out and there are a million opportunities to get out of the pain and hurt.
(Though I have used ‘she’ to refer to the victim, it can be easily replaced by a ‘he’ wherever relevant)