How can I help a friend or family member who is being abused?
1. Don’t be afraid to let him or her know that you are concerned for their safety. Help your friend or family member recognize the abuse by telling them what you see is going on and that you want to help. Let them know that what is happening is not “normal” and that they deserve healthy, non-violent relationships.
2. Acknowledge that he or she is in a very difficult and scary situation. Reassure them that the abuse is not their fault. Let them know that they are not alone. There is help and support available.
3. Be supportive. Listen to them. Understand that it may be difficult for them to talk about the abuse. Be available. What they need most is someone who will believe and listen to them.
4. Be non-judgmental. Respect their decisions. Victims stay in abusive relationships for many reasons. He or she may leave and return to the relationship many times. Don’t criticize as they will need your support even more during those times.
5. Encourage him or her to participate in activities outside of the relationship with friends and family.
6. If he or she ends the relationship, continue to be supportive of them. Even though the relationship was abusive, they may still feel sad and lonely once it is over. They will need time to mourn the loss of the relationship. Remain supportive.
7. Help him or her to develop a safety plan.
8. Encourage him or her to talk to people who can provide help and guidance. Find a local domestic violence agency that provides counseling or support groups. Offer to go with them. If they have to take legal action, offer to go along for moral support.
9. Remember that you cannot “rescue” him or her. Although it is difficult to see someone you care about get hurt, ultimately they have to be the one to decide that they want to do something about it.
Please call the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224 to discuss your concerns and questions.
Source: National Domestic Violence Hotline
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