One of the my most painful experiences in my past has been when I was going to people within the church for help and they did not help me. Or if they did try to help me they did a poor job because it only made things worse. I was often at a place of absolute desperation. Grasping for anything, anything that would help me. People would often listen and pray but that was it. That was the extent of there help. Or at least that is my perception of the events that occurred.
When someone is living in survival mood, desperate for anything that will help they are often not thinking clearly. So as a Christian what do we do? Through being a doctor I have learned a lot about talking to people in desperate situations. For this is often what doctors do. Talk to desperate sick people.
The first step should be to make sure you are safe and the desperate person is safe. If they are not safe you need to try to move them to a place of safety. This will often require a professional. The legal system or medical system may be necessary. When in doubt always turn to these systems. But the other essential part that the church can play is social support. The desperate person needs someone to be present with them, help explain things to them. This is the other essential part. Be open, honest and explain gently what is happening and the steps that are being taken to help them. A person in desperation mood is like a scared animal. They need someone to make them feel like they are in control of the situation.
The worst thing we can do as a Christians is only pray. We should always do something to try and help. You should get the consent of the person. Ask them, “I would like to help you, I am going to try to do xyz, are you ok with this plan?” If you do not know what to do then the plan is to reach out to others for advice. If you are not trained to deal with this kind of issue you should be reaching out to others who are trained. But Jesus never walked away from someone in need. We should not either.
Many people walk away because they do not know or feel like they can help. The number 1 thing you can do is find someone who can help. Find someone trained in the issue. A desperate person typically cannot do this themselves otherwise they would not be coming to you in the first place.