BREAKING A CONFIDENCE TO PROTECT A FRIEND
When is it OK to break a confidence? My teenage daughter Sandy was confronted with this dilemma when her friend was at risk in an abusive relationship.
One day, my teenage daughter Sandy sadly confessed that she had to break a friend’s confidence. Her friend, Tracy, trapped in an abusive relationship that she didn’t know how to free herself from. While sharing her difficulties with Sandy over the months Tracy always instructed Sandy not to say anything to anybody.
But the burden became too heavy for Sandy, who believed that her friend was in real danger. She reluctantly shared pertinent details of Tracy’s story with me, all the while feeling like a traitor.
As we helped Tracy out of her situation I told Tracy that Sandy felt she had betrayed her. Tracy’s response surprised us: “I told Sandy because I knew she would tell you.”
Sometimes, what someone says is the opposite of what he or she means. Abuse victims often send hidden cries for help. Identifying the real message behind the words can be difficult.
Sandy understood the value and the seriousness of a promise to a friend. But she also understood that allowing her friend to remain in a life-threatening situation could be worse. Sandy responded by doing what she thought was right, even though it meant breaking a promise. And she helped to save a life.