Helping a Friend or Family Member

Tips to help a friend or family member leave an abusive relationship

  • 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 very difficult and scary situation. Let your friend or family member know that the abuse is not their fault. Reassure them that they are not alone and that there is help and support out there.
  • Be supportive. Listen to your friend or family member. Remember that it may be difficult for them to talk about the abuse. 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.
  • 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 or try to guilt them. They will need your support even more during those times.
  • Encourage them to participate in activities outside of the relationship with friends and family.
  • 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 especially need your support at that time.
  • Help them to develop a safety plan.
  • 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.
  • Remember that you cannot “rescue” them. 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 and peace.