How to Help a Friend
Abuse doesn't just affect the people in the relationship. It affects the friends, family members, co-workers, and neighbors surrounding the relationship as well.
A Woman's Place is here for all people whose lives have been affected by abuse. To learn more about how you can help a friend, take a look at the action steps below, or call our 24-hour Hotline at 1.800.220.8116, and one of our Advocates will be there to talk things through with you.
If you are worried that a friend or loved one is in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, reach out to them. Calmly start the conversation in a private, one-on-one setting. Create a space of safety, and let them know that they can talk to you. You don't want to scare your friend by panicking, blaming them, or starting an argument. Even if they're not ready to talk about it yet, if you remain a calm, steady source of support, they're more likely to turn to you when they feel ready.
Listen to them.
When your friend or loved one feels ready to talk about the relationship, listen supportively and nonjudgmentally. Don't be forceful with the conversation. Remember that it may be difficult for them to talk about the abuse. Believe their story, and recognize them for the courage it took for them to talk about it. Remind them that they are not alone and that you want to help. What they need most is someone who will listen to them, believe them, and be there for them.
Respect your friend or loved one's decisions. Do not criticize their decisions. Do not tell them what to do. Your friend is already dealing with a controlling, manipulative partner - the last thing you want to do is to forcefully tell them what to do. There are many reasons why survivors stay in abusive relationships. They may leave and return to the relationship many times. Relationship abuse is very complex, and it can take time for a survivor to be able to leave safely. Be patient - when they feel ready, be there for them.
Offer information & resources.
Share information about relationship abuse - like the Power & Control Wheel - with your friend or loved one. Encourage them to talk to people who can provide help and guidance. Tell them about A Woman's Place and our services - including our 24-hour Hotline (1.800.220.8116), our website, and our team of Advocates, who are ready to listen and offer support. Offer to be with your friend when they talk to other family members and friends about the abuse. If they have to go to the police, to court, or to see a lawyer, offer to go along for moral support.
You cannot "rescue" them, but you can be there for them. Although it is difficult to see someone you care about get hurt, ultimately, your loved one has to be the one to decide what is best for them and what steps they want to take. Keep a calm approach, remain supportive, and connect them with help when they feel ready.
Source: One Love Foundation