Dr. Helen

How Do You Help a Male Friend in Pain?

A reader asks me how to help his friend who has an abusive spouse:

Dear Dr. Helen,

I’ve been following your articles on at PJ Media for several years now and truly appreciate your wisdom in the realm of male/female relationships. I’ve got a dear friend who I am convinced is being emotionally abused by his wife and, at this point, has something like Stockholm Syndrome where he completely buys into her very negative view of him and now he is suffering from some very real health issues and physical limitations. I have no idea how (or even whether) to help him. Any thoughts?

Thanks very much in advance.


My email response to him was:

Thanks so much for reading my articles and for taking the time to write regarding your friend.

It is very difficult to stand by and watch a friend or family member be abused and feel unable to help. Unfortunately, often times people do not want to listen and if they do, they tend to blame the messenger rather than the real culprit of their unhappiness. I would just be there for him, ask him to do activities that are fun and take his mind off his problems. If he is physically limited, you might have to be creative but just going out for a beer once in a while might be helpful to him.

If he does confide in you, you might just listen and then ask him questions rather then point out the obvious–that his wife is abusive. Once he opens up, he may figure out the problem himself and come to realize that the relationship is unhealthy. If he asks for help, give it, if not, just be there and hope he might open up at some point. He is lucky to have someone like you who cares.

Let me ask my readers what they think.

So, readers, any good advice for Anonymous? What do you feel is the best and most helpful way to help a man in emotional and physical pain who is dealing with a less than helpful spouse? Or should you help at all?