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.