How To Help
If Someone You Know is Being Abused
You may have a friend, relative, or neighbor who is being abused.
You may have witnessed the violence, heard it, seen physical signs
of it, or merely suspected it for various reasons. What should you
Ask direct questions, gently. Give the victim ample opportunity
to talk. Don't rush into providing solutions.
Listen - without judging. Victims often believe their abuser's
negative messages. They feel responsible, ashamed, inadequate, and
are afraid they will be judged.
Let the victim know that you support and care about them, that
they are not responsible for the violence, that only the abuser
can stop the violence.
Explain that physical violence in a relationship is never acceptable,
at any time. There's no excuse for it - pot alcohol or drugs, not
financial pressures, not depression, not jealousy.
Tell the victim that they are not alone - that millions of Americans
from every ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic background suffer from
abuse, and that many victims find it difficult to leave.
Also explain that domestic violence is a crime - as much of a
crime as robbery or rape - and that they can seek protection from
the justice system.
If the victim has children, reinforce their concern for them,
letting them know that domestic violence is damaging to children.
In fact, you may want to reach out to support their children, and
let them know you're there for them too.
Let the victim know that it is likely that, in spite of the abuser's
promises, the violence will continue, and probably escalate.
Emphasize that when they are ready, they can make a choice to
leave the relationship, and that there is help available.
Provide the victim with information about local resources - the
phone number of the local domestic violence hotline, support groups,
counseling, shelter programs, and legal advocacy services.
The victim may need financial assistance, or help finding a place
to live, or a place to store their belongings. They may need assistance
to escape. Decide if you feel comfortable helping out in these ways.
Contact your local domestic violence program yourself for advice
If victim is planning to leave, remind them to take important
papers with them, such as birth certificates, passports, health
insurance documents, etc.
If the victim remains in the relationship, continue to be their
friend, while at the same time firmly communicating to them that
they and their children do not deserve to be in this violent situation.
If you see or hear an assault in progress, call the police. But
because these assaults are often dangerous, do not physically intervene.