Resource Library

How to Help a Friend

Believe what your friend is saying. You might be the first and only person that she tells.

Don’t blame your friend for the abuse. Tell her it’s not her fault. NOTHING that a victim says, does, doesn’t say or doesn’t do can prevent the abuse from happening. Remember, the abuse is a choice that the abuser makes.

Be supportive. She might want to stay in the relationship, but she still needs to stay safe. She probably loves her partner, but just wants the abuse to end. Although it might be hard for you to see her in this abusive relationship, if you are a true friend that she can talk to, opening the lines for communication and support is really important.

Tell her no one deserves to be hurt. No matter what the circumstances are, no one deserves to be abused.

Tell her she is not alone and she is not crazy. Abuse can often lead to depression, fear, anger and confusion. Let her know these feelings are normal.

Actively listen and don’t judge her. Let her express all her fears and other feelings. Even giving her good advice in a kind and respectful manner may be perceived as pressure and/or a reminder of everything she is not doing “right.” Your friend might break up with her boyfriend/girlfriend but might get back together. Try to be supportive and non judgmental, and don’t blame her for doing so.

Don’t gossip. Don’t spread rumors or talk about the situation with others since it might put your friend at risk for more abuse. If her partner finds out she talked about it, she might “pay for it” later, and be hurt. If you need to get support in supporting your friend, talk to a domestic advocate or counselor.

Help her get support so she doesn’t feel isolated. Encourage her to talk to someone about her situation. This can include a parent, relative, school counselor, teacher or maybe someone from church. You may contact the 24 hour toll free National DV Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or NEWS, your local domestic violence shelter at 707-255-6397.

She may also try attending a support group and meet others that are in similar situations. This can help break out of the isolation her abuser has put her in.

Tell her good things about herself. Let her know you think she’s intelligent, strong and brave. Her abuser is telling her she is worthless and stupid and is tearing down her self-esteem.

Help your friend create a safety plan. This safety plan could help keep her safer from abuse. If she wants to break up and leave, help her to stay safe. A lot of abusive people get even more abusive when the victim tries to break up with them. This is because they are losing control over the victim. Many victims are hurt or even killed by abusive partners when they are trying to leave or after they have left.

Be patient and validate her experience. She needs to understand her experience in her own time. Learning to empower herself may take longer than you want. Unless danger is imminent, don’t be impatient with her or reject her feelings of shame or guilt.

Don’t attack the abuser. It will confuse her and, perhaps, move her to defend him or her.

Check if she might need medical attention. She might not realize the extent of her injuries.

Give her information about domestic violence. You can contact a local crisis line or domestic violence agency and get information about the impact of abuse on children and that drugs and alcohol do not cause domestic violence.

Tell her domestic violence is against the law. She may call 911 and also ask for a domestic violence advocate. If it’s not safe to stay on the phone with the operator, run or go to a safe place. If you see the abuse happening and your friend is in great physical danger, don’t put yourself at risk. Call 911!

Ask her about her children. Validate any concerns she might have about the effects of the abuse on her children. It might help her leave in the future.

Don’t give up. Let her know you will always be there when she might need help or need someone to talk to.



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