15 Ways to Help a Friend in a Physically Abusive Relationship

The topic of domestic violence is again in the news. Although it's unfortunate to hear the sad and scary stories being publicized, there is also an opportunity for women suffering silently in abusive relationships to find the courage to get help.

Family members and friends can play an important role in helping women navigate the waters of this challenging situation. If you know someone who is in an abusive relationship, step up and do something. You will be the lifeline, the voice of support and sanity that can begin to make a difference in her life.

  1. Offer a safe and confidential space for her to talk about her feelings and what's going on in the relationship.
  2. Realize that she is probably very afraid to make a move.
  3. Give her information on local resources for people experiencing domestic abuse, and encourage her to use them.
  4. Give her the phone number to the national domestic abuse hotline: 1−800−799−7233
  5. Tell her that what is happening in the relationship is not normal and not acceptable.
  6. Help her get connected to a professional counselor. Go with her to the first appointment.
  7. Let her know that you believe in her.
  8. Encourage her to participate in activities outside the relationship for support.
  9. Help her develop a plan to stay safe in the relationship.
  10. Help her plan her exit strategy from the relationship when she is ready.
  11. Don't judge her. Encourage her to leave, while honoring her right to make her own choices.
  12. Tell her that the abuse is not her fault.
  13. Be there for her with emotional support. Listen and tell her she is not alone.
  14. Offer practical support. Accompany her to appointments, offer to watch her children.
  15. Let her know that she deserves better. Say encouraging, positive things to build her confidence.

How have you tried to help someone in an abusive relationship? What would you add to this list? Please post in the comments -- your experience helps everyone.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.