Domestic violence is my biggest pet peeve. I have been a victim of it in the past, so have several members of my family and close circle of friends. So when I was recently asked to help out someone (who had children) out, I did without question. However, I knew my limits and I made them clear. Sadly, all attempts to help were for not. The person moved back into the situation. As frustrated as I was over this, I knew it was a possibility. You can only help those who are ready to help themselves. It became abundantly apparent to me just how important the limits I had set were.
Here they are in case you ever find yourself in the same situation:
1. Only offer up what you can do with out. If you can spare the money for a ticket, food for a few days, space in your home (for a specific set amount of time), rides to where ever, clothes you don't need.... fine. But don't give what you need. Don't go broke, don't go hungry and definitely don't give up your personal space if it is going to cause problems. (Especially if you have a family of your own.)
2. Don't expect to be repaid. Not only do you need to limit what you give, don't expect it back. Situations like these normally end up in one of two ways. Either they work their butts off to re-establish themselves and paying you back is on the back burner and may be for quite sometime. Or they don't make it out and paying you back becomes a bitter topic for all involved.
3. Do your best to NOT become emotionally invested. This one is hard. Especially hard if it's family or a close friend. It will get ugly. These things are never clean cut and simple. Emotions always run high for those involved. There will be crying and venting and loads of stress. If you can, try to avoid that part of it. This all becomes worse if things don't work out. If you have put yourself out there and jumped knee deep into caring for the person(s) involved, you could get hurt when they change their mind. (I FAILED to do this. I wish I hadn't.)
4. Make it clear when it's THE last time! (If you thought #3 was a toughie... ) No matter how many times the person has attempted to leave, you have to keep in mind that chances are not favorable that it will work. Most victims of domestic violence return to their abuser(s). For your own sanity, whether it's your first or fortieth time helping this particular person, make it clear when it is the last time you will be helping them out. AND THEN MEAN IT! You do not need to pull your life apart to help someone who is just not ready to help themselves. Emotionally, you just can't afford it. (see #1)
I am not saying "Don't help." Please do. People who find themselves in these sorts of relationships do need the help and support from others. What I am saying is know your limitations. Know when enough is enough. Know when helping them out is going to affect you in a negative way. It may seem like you are the only one who can save them, but in reality they are. You can only be their for them when they finally chose to commit to saving themselves.