Help a Friend or Loved One

How to help a friend or loved one

 Your help can make a difference. With this guide you can begin to understand domestic violence, recognize signs and provide support to help a friend or loved one feel safe to get the help they may need.

Understanding Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can happen to anyone, in any relationship.  It can be very concerning when you fear it may be happening to a friend or loved one. Every relationship has arguments and disagreements. In a respectful and equal relationship, both partners feel free to make their own decisions, state their opinions and be themselves comfortably. However, in an abusive relationship, one partner tries to dominate the other through physical harm, demands, threats, and sexual, verbal or emotional abuse. For a victim and their children, this behavior can be dangerous, frightening and damaging. Learn more about domestic violence by viewing our rack card HERE

Recognizing Domestic Violence

 ~They may be afraid of their partner or is always anxious to please him or her.

~They may speak of their partners ‘jealousy’, ‘bad temper’, or ‘possessiveness’.

~They may appear withdrawn from friends or family members. They may stop seeing friends or family, or cancel last minute for visits.

~They may have injuries, or they have frequent ‘accidents’ for which they may give unlikely explanations. They may sometime miss work due to some of the ‘accidents’ they have.

Providing a friend or loved one with support

~Set up a time to talk – Try to make sure you have privacy and won’t be distracted or interrupted.

~Let them know you are concerned for their safety – Tell them what your concerns are. Let them know you are willing to listen. If they are willing to talk, listen carefully and empathetically.

~Don’t place blame, guilt or shame – Be supportive, don’t judge. Avoid telling them what they have to do, such as leave the relationship. Instead, say “I get scared thinking about what might happen”.

~Offer specific support – Let them know you are always willing to listen, but also let them know other support you can offer, such as, childcare, transportation, accompanying them to court or other appointments.

~Encourage them to reach out for help – If they are ready to ask for help, assist them with connecting to local domestic violence agencies, counseling and court services.

~Help develop safety practices – They may not be ready to leave or they may feel they want time to create a Personalized Safety Plan.  There are steps they can put in place.

  • Agree on a code word or signal they can use to let you know they need immediate help.
  • Help them prepare an excuse so they can leave quickly if they feel they are in danger.
  • Help them prepare a bag with all essentials they may need (clothes, money, important documents).

~Keep supporting after they have left the relationship – The period of times someone leaves an abusive relationship can be dangerous. Often times the abuse may escalate, as the abuser is a attempting to regain control. They may need continued support and encouragement.

~If they decide to stay, continue offering support – They may decide to stay in the relationship, or leave and return multiple times. It may be difficult for you to understand, but people stay in abusive relationships for many reasons.  Be supportive, no matter what and continue to stay in frequent contact with them. Having a supportive friend or family member is very important.

Crisis Center for South Suburbia