Help for Family & Friends

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Help for Family and Friends

Are you concerned that someone you care about or love is experiencing abuse? Maybe you’ve noticed some warning signs, including:

  • Their partner puts them down in front of other people
  • They are constantly worried about making their partner angry
  • They make excuses for their partner’s behavior
  • Their partner is extremely jealous or possessive
  • They have unexplained marks or injuries
  • They’ve stopped spending time with friends and family
  • They are depressed or anxious, or you notice changes in their personality

If someone you care about or love is being abused, it can be difficult to know what to do. Your instinct may be to “save” them from the relationship, but it’s not that easy. After all, there are many reasons why people stay in abusive relationships, and leaving can be a very dangerous time for a victim. You can contact a domestic violence program or hotline/helpline for help thinking through how you can best support your family or friend.

Abuse is about power and control, so one of the most important ways you can help a person in an abusive relationship is to consider how you might support them in making their own decisions.  You can offer support in various ways:

  • Acknowledge that they are in a very difficult and scary situation, be supportive and listen
  • Be non-judgmental
  • If they end the relationship, continue to support them
  • Encourage them to participate in activities outside of the relationship with friends and family
  • Help them develop a safety plan
  • Encourage them to talk to people who can provide help and guidance. Find a local domestic violence program that provides supportive services. Offer to go with them. If they have to go to the police, court or lawyer’s office, offer to go along for moral support
  • Remember that you cannot “rescue” them. Although it is difficult to see someone you care about get hurt, ultimately they are the one who has to make the decisions about what they want to do. It’s important to support them no matter what they decide, and help them find a way to safety and peace

Information excerpted from the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH).