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How to Help a Friend

Colorful Friends

If you think that a friend or someone you know is in an abusive or unhealthy relationship, it can be difficult to know what to do. You may want to help, but be scared to lose them as a friend or feel as though it is not your place to step in. These tips below can act as a guide to help your friend seek help and safety. 

Tips on How To Help a Friend Who's in an Abusive Relationship:

1. Tell them it’s not their fault. You can never make someone else hurt you.
2. Tell them they don’t deserve it. No one ever deserves to be hurt.
3. Tell Them that they are not crazy. A person who’s been abused often feels upset, depressed, confused, and scared.  Let them know these are normal feelings to have.
4. Don’t try to pretend that the abuse isn’t happening, or that it isn’t that bad. Let your friend know that you take it very seriously; pretending it’s no big deal doesn’t make it go away.
5. Tell them good things about themselves. Let them know you think they are smart, strong, and brave. Their abuser is telling them that they are stupid and tearing down their self-esteem.
6. Try to help your friend break out of the isolation that the abuser has put them in. Keep in contact with them on the phone or by going out with them.
7. Don’t spread gossip–it could put them in danger.
8. Don’t try to make them do anything they don't want to (it won’t work unless it’s their decision).
9. Encourage them to build a wide support system– go to a support group, talk to friends and family.
10. Don’t blame them for the abuse or their decisions; leaving an abusive relationship is hard and usually takes a long time.
11. See if  medical attention is needed –they may not realize the extent of their injuries.
12. Provide good, factual information about abuse. Statistics can be found here. 
13. Ask about the children. Encourage the victim to talk about the effects this is having on them and Validate those concerns. Information about the effects abuse can have on children can be found here. 
14. Remind them if appropriate that drugs and alcohol do not cause domestic violence.
15. Tell them that domestic violence is a crime and they can call 911 for help. If it’s not safe to stay on the phone with the operator run or go to safe place.
16. Help them develop a safety plan. You can find a Safety Planning Guide Here. 
17. Listen. Let them express all her fears and other feelings. Even giving good advice in a kind and respectful manner can be received as pressure and/or a reminder of everything that they are not doing “right.”
18. Don’t initially challenge or reject  feelings of shame, guilt, or embarrassment. Give  time. Everyone needs to come to their own conclusions.
19. Don’t blame or attack the abuser.
20. Be patient. Self-empowerment may take longer that you want. Go at the victim’s pace, not yours, unless the danger is imminent.
21. Don’t give up. Let them know you will always be there for them  when they need  help or someone to talk to.
Happy Friends

For a national list of safe places and additional information on how to be safe, get help, and be smart, please visit 

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