Help a friend or family member who is being abused
Once you have recognized one of the signs of abuse, reaching out to a friend, relative, or coworker you suspect is in abusive relationship can be difficult and emotionally challenging. The following are tips on how to start the conversation. If you want further information or advice it may be helpful to talk to an advocate at your local crisis center. They can be reached through the statewide 24 hour hotline at 1-866-644-3574 and are always available to talk - you don’t need to be in crisis to call.
Listen without judging. Your friend may believe the abuser’s negative messages. They may feel ashamed, inadequate, and afraid of being judged by you. There is no need to rush into providing a solution, listening is the best thing that you can do.
Let your friend know you care about them and you believe them. Having a safe and trusted support plays a large role in a victim’s healing process and increases their chances of leaving their abuser. It is very important to let the victim know that you care about their safety and believe them.
Explain that it’s not their fault. Some victims may blame themselves for the abuse or try to excuse their abusers actions. Explain that there is never an excuse for physical violence in a relationship - not alcohol or drugs, not financial pressure, not mental illness, not jealousy- there’s never an excuse.
Support their decision. If the person remains in the relationship, continue to be a friend while firmly expressing your concern for their safety. Remember that, for many victims, leaving an abusive relationship can take time and may not happen right away. Discuss resources and options.
Explain that domestic violence is a crime and that victims can seek protection from the police or courts. Emphasize that when your friend is ready, they can make a choice to leave the relationship, and that help is available.
Take care of yourself, too.
What is a safety plan? A safety plan is a practical plan that is personalized to each victim's’ needs and is designed to help them avoid dangerous situations. A survivor's safety plan outlines the best way for them to respond if you are in danger or feeling triggered. Planning can be used while they are still with their abuser or after the relationship has ended. Crisis center advocates are available 24/7 to help craft or review a personal safety plan, to discuss safe options like emergency shelter, and provide emotional support.
"I’m afraid for you." Tell your friend that you care and are concerned for her.
"I’m afraid for your children." Children can be harmed by being exposed to battering and at risk of being physically abused also.
"It will only get worse." Statistics show that domestic violence only gets worse and will occur more often over time.
"I’m here for you." Let your friend know you will be there when she or he needs you.
"You don’t deserve to be abused."
"The abuse is not your friend’s fault."
"It's not your fault, I believe you." Giving reassuring, non-judgmental messages will make your friend feel empowered and supported. *Phrases were adapted from the AVON Foundation Speak Out Against Domestic Violence Resource Guide. The phrases were recommended by National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence.
The 13 member programs of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence provide services regardless of gender,age, health status (including HIV-positive), physical, mental or emotional ability, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, socio-economic status, race, national origin, immigration status or religious or political affiliation.