how to help a friend
There are many ways to help a loved one that is in an abusive situation, but it can be difficult to know where to start. Below are a few ideas to help, however, do not forget that you may need additional support as well. Do not hesitate to contact an advocate at the ywca for information, direction or support.
five things that survivors tell us are very helpful to say
- I’m afraid for your safety.
- I’m afraid for the safety of your children.
- It will only get worse.
- I’m here for you when you are ready or when you are able to leave.
- You deserve better than this.
What else can I do?
bring up the subject - Don’t be afraid to let them know your concerns. Acknowledge that they are in a very difficult and scary situation. Say that you can see what’s happening and that you want to help. Let them know they are not alone.
acknowledge that they are in a very difficult and scary situation - Let them know that it’s not their fault that they are being battered. Encourage them to express their feelings of hurt, anger, humiliation, etc. Respect their right to make their own decisions – Let them find their own way. Don’t start with what you think they should do, or insist that they follow your plan. Instead help them develop their own plan, one they feel comfortable and safe with, otherwise they may never follow-through or they could put themselves in even more danger
go with them - If they need medical care, go with them. If they are going to the police, to court, or to see a lawyer, offer to go along, but let them do the talking.
plan safe strategies with them - If they are contemplating leaving an abusive relationship, help them to develop a “safety plan”. Make sure they are fully comfortable with the plan. Never encourage them to follow a plan that they do not consider safe. Click here for more information on developing a safety plan.
give them time - If they do not respond to you, ask again a few days later. Don’t rush into providing solutions.
listen - without judging. Fear of judgment has and will keep victims silent.
continue to be their friend - If they remain in the relationship, continue to be their friend while firmly expressing your concern for their safety. Remember that, for many, leaving an abusive relationship can take time and may not happen right away. This is not a simple decision and leaving may increase the level of danger.
let them know that you care and that it is not their fault - Explain that there’s never an excuse for physical violence in a relationship. Remind them that the batterer, not the victim, is responsible for the abuse.
do not confront the abuser - Confronting the abuser may jeopardize the safety of your loved ones and yourself.