How to Help a Friend in an Abusive Relationship
Help your friend recognize the abuse. Point out the different types of abuse in dating relationships. Inform your friend about how abuse happens and hurts more throughout time. Express your concerns. Tell your friend you are glad they confided in you. Let them know you are sorry this is happening. You can never say the following phrases too much:
- I am worried about you.
- It is not your fault.
- You deserve better.
- I am here for you.
- I am glad you confided in me.
Support your friend’s strength. Point out how your friend is able to take care of them self. Encourage your friend to spend time with others and to take time away from the relationship.
Tell your friend you are worried about their safety. Let your friend know you are there and mean it. Do not become upset if your friend is not ready to break off the relationship, yet. Try to see that your friend is dealing with some difficult emotions: love and security from a partner—and fear from the abuse. If your friend wants to stay in the relationship, or keeps returning to the abusive partner, hold back from telling them that they are wrong. Help your friend see they are not to blame for the violence and that changing their behavior will not stop the abuse. Help your friend recognize the abuser’s excuses for being violent.
Work on a Safety Plan.
Help your friend think of ways to be safe. Look at patterns in the abuser’s behavior to determine when the abuser is explosive or violent. Help your friend decide how and where they would go if they had to leave home quickly. Offer to walk or ride with them to school or work or invite them to spend the night at your house. Find local resources that can offer additional support.
Be there, listen and stay there.
You may feel like a broken record or that your friend is not really listening. Keep supporting your friend. By avoiding blame, they will know you are supportive. When they are ready to end the relationship, continue to be supportive and try to get them involved in activities. It takes a while to get over any relationship, even one that is violent. Help your friend resist the pressure to get back together.
Reach out for help.
Call area resources for ideas about how to help your friend. Crisis lines are available 24 hours per day and you do not need to give your name.
Continue to educate yourself about domestic/dating violence.
Coping with Dating Violence by Nancy Rue, Next Time She’ll Be Dead: Battering and How to Stop It by Ann Jones and Getting Free by Ginny NiCarthy are some of the many good resource books about violence in relationships. Check your local library or domestic violence program to borrow these or other materials. WHBW has a library located in our administrative offices, which are open to the public. Please call us at 802-658-3131 if you are interested in loaning a book or video about domestic violence.
If you are frightened or frustrated, get support for yourself. Remember, you cannot rescue or solve all of your friend’s problems.