Friends and family can help victims of abuse

If a woman who is being abused comes to you for help, you can listen to her and let her talk about what has happened.

If a woman who is being abused comes to you for help, you can listen to her and let her talk about what has happened.

It is important to be understanding and supportive. She may feel she caused the abuse to happen and that she is to blame.

It is important for both of you to keep in mind that no one has the right to abuse another person.

Reserve judgement

Do not offer excuses for the violence and do not minimize the seriousness of what has happened. You shouldn’t worry about “taking sides” if you know and care about both partners in the abusive relationship. Offering support and helping a woman find resources that can assist her does not imply you are choosing sides.




Respect her





Help her find a safe place to stay.

For a woman who is abused, her safety is of the utmost importance. In a crisis situation, it is important for you to remain calm and to offer support by identifying options, such as an assaulted women’s shelter.




Be supportive




Support her if she chooses to call the police. You can assist further by helping her locate additional resources such as legal aid and counselling. Even if you don’t necessarily agree with the victim’s decisions, be supportive. The only exception to this, of course, is if a woman’s decisions are clearly dangerous, harmful, or illegal.




Set limits and be clear about them




Set limits to which you are willing to be involved and in what ways you can help. Be clear. Many women who are abused feel ashamed and violated — it is difficult to confide in others and to disclose abuse. Do not breach the trust placed in you by the victim. Let her know whether you intend to do anything and, if so, what.




Be respectful




You may offer help and support with the best of intentions, but ultimately, a woman’s decisions are her own. Don’t be offended if she doesn’t follow the advice you give.




Examine your own feelings and attitudes




Remember that domestic violence transcends age, race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, education, sexual orientation, and physical/mental ability. If you are not lesbian, examine your assumptions. they may reflect certain myths about lesbian relationships. Don’t assume an abused woman’s partner is male — abuse occurs in lesbian relationships too.


Stay in contact




Abusers frequently attempt to isolate their victims. It is important that you stay in contact with your friend/family member. Be patient and accept their decisions, whether you agree or not. Your support is valuable. It is difficult for victims of abuse to ask for help and your continuing support makes it much easier for them to seek professional help.




What to do if someone who has been abusive confides in you




Occasionally, people who have been abusive turn to friends for help. If an abusive person confides in you, let him or her know that the violence and abuse are unacceptable.

There is never any excuse or justification for violence. Perpetrators often believe an apology will solve the problem and relieve them of responsibility. It will do neither. No one has the right to hurt someone else.

Support him or her and encourage him or her to get help. Perpetrators must take responsibility for their behaviors.




Offer to assist him or her in locating resources




Assist him/her in finding a counsellor, support group, or other community resources that work with abusers. He/she needs to understand the consequences of his or her violent behavior and to learn to control it. He/she may also have other issues such as alcohol or substance abuse, a history of childhood abuse, or other stressors/factors that contribute to his/her own abusiveness. These issues do not excuse violent behavior but they do need to be identified and addressed.




Keep in contact





Remain in contact with the abuser and provide ongoing support to ensure he/she gets help and stops his/her violent behavior. The community may isolate him/her because of his/her behavior and as a result, he/she may withdraw without seeking the help he/she needs.



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