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Friends and Family
The following information was obtained from: Mayor of London's DV Friends and Family Leaflet (.pdf) and National Domestic Violence Hotline's "How Can I Help a Friend or Family Member Who is Being Abused?"
- If you think a friend or family member may be experiencing domestic violence, there are things you can do to help.
Many friends and family members think that domestic violence is a private family matter where outsiders shouldn’t interfere. However, it is important to know that your support can make a big difference in the life of your friend or family member. Sometimes talking about domestic violence can be uncomfortable for you to talk about. However, remember that it can be as simple as saying “Is everything okay? I am worried about you.”
- Don’t be afraid to talk about it with your friend.
Let her know that you have recognized the abuse and that you are concerned for her safety. Try not to criticize her, her relationship, or the choices she has made. Help her to recognize that what is happening to her in her relationship is not “normal” and that she deserves to be in a healthy relationship. Do not pressure her to talk about the abuse if she is not ready to. It is imperative that you keep what she says private and confidential.
- Be supportive of your friend.
Listen to and believe what your friend tells you. She may not be ready to accept your support right now, so it is important to let her show you how you can be supportive. Respect the decisions she makes. Do not criticize her decisions or tell her what to do. Understand that there are many reasons why she may be staying in her abusive relationship. Leaving an abusive relationship is very complex and often times dangerous. Let her know that she has your support.
- Encourage her to talk to others who can provide her with resources and guidance.
Help her connect with a domestic violence agency that can provide her with resources, support and information about different options she may have. If she contacts an agency, let her know that they will not pressure her to leave if she does not want to. Remember- in addition to facing abuse your friend is also dealing with rules and laws that are new or unfamiliar, and she may need your support to navigate the system.