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You have been talking to your friend a lot lately and are becoming very close. Everything is going smoothly and you are enjoying your friendship. One day when you are chatting and your pal tells you they are being abused or neglected.

First, you need to know what abuse is. Abuse is the mistreatment of an individual by means of physical injury, emotional/mental injury, sexual abuse or exploitation. It also includes neglect and maltreatment. Abuse can be committed by a parent, relative, guardian, anyone in a role of authority, friend or stranger. In other words, it can be anyone.

I Feel Shocked

Initially you will probably feel shocked about what you have just been told. This is normal. Take a deep breath, collect yourself and try to relax. This disclosure is a testimony to the trust you have built with your friend. They must really believe in you to have told you such a guarded secret.

I Feel Lost

A disclosure of abuse is a very serious issue and is not easy to handle for anyone. The most important thing you can tell your friend at this moment is that they are not to blame. Make sure they know you believe them. Listen very closely to them and be supportive. Tell them that you will help in anyway you can but that you really don't know what to do. Tell them, if you can, you will get help for them. You should also tell them that you respect them, but this is one secret you cannot keep. Let them get angry about that. It is OK.

I Feel Good

Even if your friend told you not to tell your parents or guardians, you must. Let the adult handle the rest. Your friend may be very upset with you for telling. This is OK. They never would have told anyone if they didn't really want help. They will come around eventually. Just have patience with them. Your friend needed you and you came through. You did what was best. You may have even saved their life.

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