What to Say if You Suspect Someone is Using Abusive
Domestic violence is a difficult subject to discuss with friends
or family members, but it does need to be talked about--especially
if you see that someone is exhibiting abusive behavior.
It's important to note that someone using this behavior may not
listen. He* may become defensive and even
angry, deny it, ignore you or make excuses. He may want to talk
about what she did to "provoke" him. He may even laugh it off or
make fun of you. Still, you need to say something. Your silence is
the same as saying you approve, and speaking up could help save a
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Here are some easy ways to start a conversation with someone you
think might be being abusive:
Draw attention to it.
A good place to start is by simply pointing out the behavior. In
some cases, he might not be aware of his behavior or realize that
others are aware of it.
- "Do you see the effect your hurtful or mean-spirited words have
- "When you do that, it makes her feel bad."
- "Did you mean to be so rough?"
- "Kids learn from their parents. Is this how you want your son
to treat women?"
- "How would you feel if another man did this to your
Tell him what you think.
An abuser might not realize what he is doing is wrong. Let him
know that his actions are harmful and detrimental to his
relationship with her - and with others who won't tolerate his
actions, including you.
- "I'm really worried about her safety."
- "I'm surprised to see you act that way. You're better than
- "I care about you, but I won't tolerate you abusing her."
- "This makes me really uncomfortable. It's not right."
- "I am losing respect for you."
Express ideas about loving behavior.
Provide comparisons between loving behavior and abusive
- "Loving her doesn't mean abusing her." -OR- "Loving her doesn't
include abusing her."
- "Good husbands and partners don't say or do those kinds of
- "How would you want your daughter treated?"
- "Men should never hit or threaten the women they love."
Offer suggestions or solutions.
Let him know that there are ways to help him curb his abusive
- "Call me if you feel like you're losing control."
- "Maybe you should try counseling."
- "There are programs in our area that can help."
If his behavior is criminal, tell him.
Make sure he is aware of the consequences of his actions.
- "Domestic violence is a crime. You could be arrested for
- "I'm afraid you'll really hurt her badly or kill her next
- "You could end up in jail if you don't find a way to deal with
your problems. Then what would happen to you and your family?"
If you are concerned about the safety of your friend or family
member's partner or spouse, 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.