Help a Friend in an Abusive Relationship

If a friend in an abusive relationship comes to you for support, refer to the guidelines below. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions on how to handle the situation.

  • Let him or her know you are concerned for their safety. Help your friend recognize the abuse. Tell her/him you see what is going on and that you want to help. Help her/him recognize it is not “normal” and they deserve a healthy, non-violent relationship.
  • Acknowledge that s/he is in a very difficult and scary situation. Let your friend know that the abuse is not their fault. Reassure her/him they are not alone and there is help and support out there.
  • Be supportive. Listen to your friend. Remember it may be difficult for her/him to talk about the abuse. Let them know 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’s decisions. There are many reasons why victims stay in abusive relationships. S/he may leave and return to the relationship many times. Do not criticize or try to make your friend feel guilty. S/he will need your support even more during those times.
  • Encourage him or her to participate in activities outside of the relationship with friends and family. Abusive people often cut off their partners’ contact with friends or family to increase control and decrease  access to help and support.
  • If s/he ends the relationship, continue to support them. Even though the relationship was abusive, your friend may still feel sad and lonely once it is over. S/he will need time to mourn the loss of the relationship and will especially need you at that time.
  • Encourage her/him to talk to people who can provide help and guidance. Let your friend know about the resources provided by CARE. Offer to go with her/him to talk to family and friends. If s/he has to go to the police, court or a lawyer, offer to go along for moral support.
  • Remember that you cannot “rescue” your friend. 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 be supportive and help her/him find a way to safety and peace.

Adapted from the National Domestic Violence Hotline.