- Survivor Stories
- Dynamics of Intimate Partner Violence
- For Victims and Survivors
- •For Family and Friends
- • How to Help
- Repairing the Harm: How Family & Friends Can Help Battered Mothers and their Children
- For Students and Educators
- For Service Providers
- For Attorneys
- Domestic Violence in the Workplace
- Request a Presentation/Training
How to Help
Millions of Americans are physically and emotionally abused by their partners each year. Chances are, someone you know—your mother, sister, brother, friend, coworker or neighbor—has experienced domestic violence or abuse. Perhaps you feel the problem will “work itself out.” The truth is that generally the abuse will not end until someone takes action to stop it.
What You Can Do
Gather all the information you can about domestic violence and abuse. Contact Caring Unlimited to receive an information packet or to talk with an advocate about how you can be most helpful.
Lend A Sympathetic Ear
Letting your friend know you care and are willing to listen without judgment may be the best help you can offer. Don’t force it. Allow the person to confide at their own pace. Keep an open mind. Never blame or minimize the situation. Focus on supporting the person’s right to make her or his own choices in their own time. Be very careful not to increase the danger by sharing anything the person tells you with an unsafe person—and never, under any circumstances, with the abuser or anyone who will inform or report back to the abuser.
Guide Your Friend To Services
When your friend asks for advice, share the information you’ve learned. Encourage a call the local domestic violence hotline. Many people who are abused first seek help from marriage counselors, members of the clergy or their doctor. Not all helping professionals are fully aware of the complex dynamics and risks to the victim of domestic abuse. If the first person your friend contacts is unhelpful, encourage her or him not to give up and to find assistance elsewhere.
Focus On Your Friend’s Strengths
Abuse systematically strips a person of their sense of self-worth. Give the person the emotional support needed to believe that they are a good and worthy person. Help them examine their strengths and skills. Emphasize that the person and their children deserve a life free from abuse in any form—emotional or physical.
Help Your Friend Develop A Safety Plan
Help your friend think through the steps that need to be taken if the partner becomes abusive again and/or if it should be necessary to leave suddenly. See the Safety Planning page of this website for more information.
If Your Friend Decides To Leave
It is important to remember that victims of domestic violence and abuse are in the greatest danger when they attempt to leave their abuser. Leaving should happen with a well thought out safety plan. Encourage your friend to call the local domestic violence hotline. Advocates can help examine the person’s options for maintaining safety and provide ongoing support through the difficult and often dangerous process of leaving.