There are many forms of abuse. Physical abuse is easily discernible. Verbal and emotional abuse are much more rampant, and more difficult to deal with because the scars are on the inside. Helping a friend through the process of accepting they have been abused and helping them heal takes patience, listening, and loving unconditionally.
First, your friend has to tell her story in her own way. Many times the abuse has gone on so long, and been so devastating that to protect herself she talks around it. Be ready to listen to the story several times. As she tells it and sees you are not upset, she will begin to tell more of what happened and how she feels.
Once trust is established, you can begin to talk about getting some help. Help can be in the form of a support group, counselor, or maybe someone who has been through something similar and recovered. Professional help can be sought by searching a site such as canada 411. It is important to note that your friend will not get better right away, but will ebb and flow through recovering, remembering, and withdrawing. This is part of the process.
Your friend will need you to create a positive environment. Doing kind things, reminding her what her gifts are and how you like them, and standing by her when she has to deal with an issue or let something out is giving her the support she needs to recover. Often, after a counselor visit your friend will need you. Sometimes after releasing some of the poison, your friend will feel unsettled as past thoughts and overwhelming emotions come up. Having a catch phrase such as, “It’s okay,” to say after an event releases the tension.