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How to help a friend who is being abused
Here are some ways to help a friend who is being abused:
- Set up a time to talk. Try to make sure you have privacy and won't be distracted or interrupted.
- Let your friend know you're concerned about her safety. Be honest. Tell her about times when you were worried about her. Help her see that what she's going through is not right. Let her know you want to help.
- Be supportive. Listen to your friend. Keep in mind that it may be very hard for her to talk about the abuse. Tell her that she is not alone, and that people want to help.
- Offer specific help. You might say you are willing to just listen, to help her with childcare, or to provide transportation, for example.
- Don't place shame, blame, or guilt on your friend. Don't say, "You just need to leave." Instead, say something like, "I get scared thinking about what might happen to you." Tell her you understand that her situation is very difficult.
- Help her make a safety plan. Safety planning includes picking a place to go and packing important items.
- Encourage your friend to talk to someone who can help. Offer to help her find a local domestic violence agency. Offer to go with her to the agency, the police, or court.
- If your friend decides to stay, continue to be supportive. Your friend may decide to stay in the relationship, or she may leave and then go back many times. It may be hard for you to understand, but people stay in abusive relationships for many reasons. Be supportive, no matter what your friend decides to do.
- Encourage your friend to do things outside of the relationship. It's important for her to see friends and family.
- If your friend decides to leave, continue to offer support. Even though the relationship was abusive, she may feel sad and lonely once it is over. She also may need help getting services from agencies or community groups.
- Keep in mind that you can't "rescue" your friend. She has to be the one to decide it's time to get help. Support her no matter what her decision.
- Let your friend know that you will always be there no matter what.
Explore other publications and websites
Common Reactions After Trauma — This fact sheet describes the feelings a person may have after a traumatic event. It also discusses where to go for help and who to talk to about your feelings.
Help a Loved One (Copyright © Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) — This publication has tips on how to help someone who was sexually assaulted or abused.
Help Someone Else (Copyright © Break the Cycle) — This website has links to help you if you know someone experiencing dating abuse.
How Can I Help a Friend or Family Member Who is Being Abused? (Copyright © National Domestic Violence Hotline) — This publication gives advice to friends and family of abuse survivors on how to deal with the issue of domestic violence. Useful suggestions on how to approach the loved one and additional resources for help are provided.
How to Talk With Someone Who is Being Abused: Guidelines for Coworkers (Copyright © Family Violence Prevention Fund) — If one of your coworkers may be experiencing abuse, this guide can help decide when and what to say to help them progress toward safety.
Support for a Friend (Copyright © National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline) — This website talks about warning signs to look for that mean your friend is in trouble and needs help.
Tips for Helping a Friend (Copyright © Women's Justice Center) — This website gives tips on how to help a friend who is in an abusive relationship, has survived sexual assault, or is trying to get help from the criminal justice system.
Connect with other organizations
Break the Cycle
Futures Without Violence
Men Can Stop Rape
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network
Content last updated May 18, 2011.
Resources last updated May 18, 2011.
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