How to Help Others Who May Be in an Abusive Relationship
Does your friend or loved one…
- Have frequent injuries resulting from “accidents”?
- Have separate injuries in various stages of healing?
- Frequently or suddenly miss work, school, or cancel plans?
- Receive frequent calls or texts from their partner?
- Talk of being afraid of their partner?
- Defer to their partner to make decisions or to “get permission”?
- Lack assertiveness, avoid eye contact or have submissive behavior?
- Act defensively if you bring up the topic of abuse?
- Make excuses for their partner?
- Isolate from friends and family?
- Have insufficient resources to live (money, credit cards, car)?
- Lack self-care?
- Suddenly use (more) drugs or alcohol?
- Act depressed, lonely or have low self-esteem?
How to Help
Most often, a survivor of domestic violence or dating violence will seek help from their support network, including friends, family, or co-workers. The manner in which you respond can have a powerful effect on the survivor’s life and their decision to seek further help. Remember, you cannot force someone to leave their abuser. While you can help someone leave a violent relationship, it is ultimately his/her choice to change his/her life and future. Please recognize that the decision to leave an abusive relationship is not easy and the survivor will need your love and support to do so, even if they return to the relationship.
If a survivor reaches out to you…
- Try to remain supportive and non-judgmental.
- Let them know you believe them and want to hear about their experience.
- Allow them to tell their story.
- Let them know you care about them and are concerned for their safety.
- Support their right to be angry.
- Don’t deny any of their feelings.
- Respect the cultural values and beliefs that affect their behavior.
- Help them assess their resources and support system.
- Maintain contact with them. Physical and psychological isolation are powerful control tactics used by batterers.
- Avoid “you” statements, such as “you should.” Instead use “I” statements, such as “I’m concerned.”
Let them know that they are not alone, it is not their fault and that free help is available.
- Offer them phone numbers for local resources. Call Hope’s Door New Beginning Center’s 24-hour hotline (972-276-0057) for information on our free services and local resources in English and Spanish.
- Direct them to our website at www.hdnbc.org.
- Tell them to call 911 if they are in physical danger.
- Call the police if someone discloses to you that a child, senior or disabled person is being harmed.