How to help someone in an abusive relationship

Watching someone 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 a lot of things you can do to help.

What Can I Do?

  • Respectfully approach them and express your concern.
  • Tell them you are always available to talk if he/she wants to.
  • Tell them you’re concerned for their safety and want to help.
  • Be supportive and listen patiently. Acknowledge their feelings and be respectful of their decisions.
  • Help your friend recognize that the abuse is not “normal” and is NOT their fault. Everyone deserves a healthy, non-violent relationship.
  • Focus the conversation on them, not the abusive partner. Even if he/she stays with their partner, it’s important they still feel comfortable talking to you about it.
  • Connect them to resources in their community that can give them information and guidance. Remember HAVEN can help.
  • Help them develop a safety plan.
  • If he/she breaks up with the abusive partner, continue to be supportive after the relationship is over.
  • Even when you feel like there’s nothing you can do, don’t forget that by being supportive and caring — you’re already doing a lot.
  • Don’t contact their abuser or publicly post negative things about them online. It’ll only worsen the situation for them.

Remember that HAVEN’s 24/7 support line (406-586-4111) is for anyone who would like to learn more about domestic violence or learn how to support a friend or family member affected by domestic violence.