Helping a Friend or Family Member

The following are tips to help a friend or family member leave an abusive relationship. The content is adapted from

  • Help them develop a safety plan.
  • Don’t be afraid to let them know that you are concerned for their safety. Help your friend or family member recognize the abuse. Tell them you see what is going on and that you want to help. Help them recognize that what is happening is not “normal” and that they deserve a healthy, non-violent relationship.
  • Acknowledge that they are in a frightening and difficult situation. Let your friend or family member know that the abuse is not their fault. Reassure them that they are not alone and that help and support are available. 
  • Encourage them to talk to people who can provide help and guidance. Find a local domestic violence service provider that provides counseling or support groups. Offer to go with them to talk to family and friends. If they chose to go to the police, court, or a lawyer, offer to go along for moral support.
  • Be supportive. Listen to your friend or family member. Remember that it may be difficult for them to talk about the abuse. However, let them know that you are available to help whenever they may need it. What they need most is someone who will believe and listen to them. 
  • If they end the relationship, continue to be supportive of them. Even though the relationship was abusive, your friend or family member may still feel sad and lonely once it is over. They will need time to mourn the loss of the relationship and will continue to need support.
  • Be non-judgmental. Respect your friend or family member’s decisions. There are many reasons why victims stay in abusive relationships. They may leave and return to the relationship many times. Do not criticize their decisions. They will need your support even more during the times when they are unsure what they want to do.
  • Although it is difficult to see someone you care about get hurt, ultimately, the person getting hurt has to be the one to decide that they want to do something about it. It’s important for you to support them and help them find a way to safety.