How to Help a Friend
People in abusive relationships often feel isolated and alone. Their friends and family members can offer a great deal of support and help break the isolation. Here are some ways you can help!
WHAT TO DO
• Believe their story. Try not to seem shocked or question what they are saying.
• Ask, “Are you ok?” Encourage them to seek help and talk about the situation.
• Help find help Offer resources such as the local Domestic Violence organization. Offer to go to the school guidance counselor with them.
• Practice Non-judgment Explain that domestic violence can happen to anyone.
• Listen Continue to offer support and a safe place to process.
• Support Allow them to identify what they want and need. Treat their choices with respect, even if you disagree. Support their priorities; ask questions that allow them to reflect on their situation.
• Safety Plan Encourage a safety plan; refer to a Domestic Violence agency that can help.
• Stay Neutral Even if you know both the abuser and the victim, it is important to maintain neutrality within each relationship
• Don’t Rush Them Everyone needs time to process and come to their own decisions.
It is important to respect a friend’s need for confidentiality, but that doesn’t mean you should have to be solely responsible for helping them get out of a violent relationship. You can tell a trusted adult about the situation. Talk to your friend about your decision to tell someone before you do; he or she deserves to know beforehand.
WHAT NOT TO DO
• Do not blame your friend for the abuse.
• Do not give up on them and leave them isolated. Leaving an abusive relationship is a process that takes time.
• Refrain from gossiping about their situations.
• Do not assume that they know where to go for help.
• Do not confront abusers.
• Unless an attack is in progress, do not contact police without victims giving you permission; let victims decide whether or not to report the abuse.
For more information about helping a friend in an abusive relationship, download our Help a Friend Brochure.