What to Say When You Think Someone is Being Abused
If you suspect a friend or family member is in an abusive
relationship, talking with them about it can be hard. The most
important thing you can do is to let them know that they have
support and options to leave the relationship.
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It's important to remember that you can't "rescue" your friend
from an abusive relationship. Although it is hard to see someone
you care about get hurt, ultimately the person being hurt needs to
be the one who decides to do something about it. It's important to
support and help her find a way to safety.
Here are some easy ways to help start the conversation:
Offer support without judgment or
There are many reasons why a victim may stay in abusive
relationships. And, many reasons why she* may
leave and return to the relationship many times. Let her know it's
not her fault and that she's not alone. Respect her decisions, even
when you don't agree. Do not criticize or make her feel guilty -she
needs you to be helpful, not hurtful.
- "It's not your fault he treats you that way."
- "I know this is difficult to discuss, but please know you can
talk to me about anything."
- "You are not alone. I care about you and am here for you, no
- "You are not responsible for his behavior."
- "No matter what you did, you do not deserve this."
Don't be afraid to tell her that you're concerned for
Help your friend or family member recognize the abuse while
acknowledging that she is in a very difficult and dangerous
- "I see what is going on with you and _______ and I want to
- "You don't deserve to be treated that way. Good husbands and
partners don't say or do those kinds of things."
- "The way he treats you is wrong. Men should never hit or
threaten the women they love."
- "I'm worried about your safety and am afraid he'll really hurt
you next time."
- "Promise me that if you need to talk, you'll come to me."
There are many reasons why individuals experiencing abuse don't
reach out to family and friends. It's important to recognize if she
is ready to talk about her experiences while offering support.
- "I'm here to help and am always available, even if you don't
want to talk about it."
- "Remember, you're not alone - I am here for you when you're
ready to talk about it."
Don't try to make any decisions for your friend because it
implies that you think she's incapable of making good choices for
herself and it may deter her from confiding in you in the future.
Instead, focus on offering support and encouragement.
- "I want to help. What can I do to support you?"
- "How can I help protect your safety?"
Encourage her to get help.
Suggest ways she can get additional support. Help her look into
available resources, such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline
number (800-799-SAFE) or a local domestic violence agency with
specially-trained advocates to help her out of the situation.
- "Here is the number to our local domestic violence agency. They
can help provide shelter, counseling or support groups."
- You could also add: "They also offer services to help you
understand the legal system, access community resources, relocate
or get support for your children."
- "Let's develop a safety plan."
- "If you need to go to the police [or court or a lawyer], I can
go with you to offer support."
If you are concerned about the safety of your friend or family
member, or to learn about services in your area, contact the
National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
or TTY 1-800-787-3224.
show that domestic violence primarily impacts women. Feminine
pronouns are used in this document when referring to victims of
domestic violence and masculine pronouns are used when referring to
perpetrators. We are using gender-specific pronouns to keep the
writing simple and clear, but we recognize that the issue is not a
simple one. Sometimes the perpetrator will be female while the
victim will be male. And, domestic violence can happen in same sex
relationships as well.