Hope Women’s Center Offers 9 Tips for Compassionately Helping a Woman in Crisis
1. DO ask, “What happened?”
Our first instinct is to ask, “What’s wrong?” which can easily be heard as, “What’s wrong with you?”
“What happened?” asks about an experience, not a state of being, which helps dispel feelings of shame.
2. DO listen.
Sometimes a person in crisis simply needs to be heard, so listen, without assumption you need to say something. Your presence is far more valuable than your advice.
3. DO keep your body and words calm.
Crisis makes a person anxious. If you become frenzied, you’ll only add to her nerves. Breathe, listen, nod.
4. DO affirm the way she feels about her situation.
Affirm the difficulty of her crisis by saying, “I’m sorry you’re experiencing this. I know it hurts.” This gives her permission to navigate her feelings so she can better process her situation and her needs.
5. DO offer help by asking, “How can I help right now?”
She’s likely to answer with what she needs. Be realistic about your abilities and time, as well as your emotional and physical resources. As a helper, you can help, but you can’t solve, fix, or take on her crisis.
6. DO bring the crisis from overwhelming impossibility into workable steps by asking, “What’s the next best step in this situation?”
Crisis is overwhelming for the person in it. Because you’re on the outside, you have the advantage of clarity. Gently help her consider practical steps toward relief, then encourage her to take one step.
7. DO be a hope ambassador, while understanding you can’t be a hope activator.
Being outside the crisis, it’s easier for you to be hopeful for improvement. “Things will get better, Give it time, Everything will be all right” sound like comforting words, but they’re dismissive of the present crisis. Being with her, a light in her darkness, assures her there’s hope.
8. DO offer, “How can I pray for you?”
Prayer is where hope and truth become more palatable. In the heat of crisis, Scripture promises can be hard to swallow, but one small truth is powerful. Give her the one good word on your heart and keep it simple with, “I’m going to pray wisdom over you” or “I’m going to pray peace for you in this situation”.
9. A short list of what you DON’T SAY to a woman in crisis.
“This was God’s plan”, “God is in control”, “God won’t give you more than you can stand”
True statements, but hard to understand in crisis. Peter, James, and John knew the earthly life of Jesus well and summed it up nicely: Be patient, gentle, merciful, humble, and steady in grace and peace. Live the truth by living love.