Help a Friend
Watching a friend go through an abusive relationship can be very scary and you may feel like you’re not sure how to help them. The decision to leave can only be made by the person experiencing the abuse, but there are lot of things you can do to help your friend stay safe. (From www.loveisrespect.org)
- Reach out to a friend who you think needs help. Tell them you’re concerned for their safety and want to help. Focus on your support and love for your friend and in making them feel safe.
- Listen. Validate their experience and feelings, and be respectful of their decisions.
- Encourage them to document what they safely can. (Save threatening texts, voicemails, write down in a journal incidents of abuse, take photos of injuries and e-mail to you/another safe person)
- Provide information about signs of an abusive relationship. Help connect them to resources in the community that can provide them further support. Share New Beginnings’ 24-hour sexual violence support line: (800) 277-5570 and the 24-hour domestic violence support line: (866) 644-3574.
- Contact law enforcement if you believe their is an imminent threat to their life.
- Let them know they don’t deserve or cause the abuse; everyone deserves to be in a healthy, safe relationship.
- Help them develop a safety plan.
- Continue to be supportive after they leave the relationship.
- Offer to help them access services for victims (transportation, bus fare, bring them materials, accompany them to appointments, etc.).
- Seek support for yourself; supporting a friend in an abusive relationship can be tiring, confusing, frustrating, and just plain difficult. Advocates are always available to listen. You don’t have to be a victim of abuse to call! New Beginnings can answer questions about domestic, sexual, and stalking violence, provide information about our services, and share more tips on how to help a friend.
- Speak negatively about their partner or relationship, focus on your friend not their abuser. This includes not speaking negatively about the abuser in the community or on social media.
- Contact/confront the partner about the abuse. You don’t want to put yourself in danger or your friend in further danger, when trying to help.
- Make promises you cannot keep.
- Feel you’re at fault or you have failed them if they choose to stay with the abuser, enter another unhealthy relationship, or are hurt. You have supported and empowered them to make their own decisions and provided them information to help them get help and stay safe
- Loan money or materials that enable the violence to continue. However, you can offer forms of assistance that will help them become safe.
- Report minor/everyday concerns to law enforcement without your friend’s explicit consent.
- Ignore the safety of children to protect your friend. Get informed about children’s’ exposure to domestic violence and speak openly about your concerns with your friend. Even if they claim the partner won’t intentionally injure the child explain your concerns about their exposure to the violence.
- Threaten to sever your relationship if they stay with their abusive partner. Abusers often intentionally try to isolate their victims. When your friend decides to leave they need to know they have a support system to turn to, even if that system is just you!