How To Help Someone In An Abusive Relationship

You may be contacted directly by a friend or relative in an abusive relationship. Or you may just notice things in a relationship that disturb you. Either way, you can do more to help the victim if you’re prepared to take action.

First, you offer support. The abuse may make your friend feel isolated. She needs to know you support her and will stand by her, no matter what she decides to do about her relationship. While you should show your support, try not to tie it to ultimatums or talk negatively about her abuser. Ask her what she needs and offer your resources.

If you have more questions or concerns, you should call the YWCA domestic violence hotline at 413-733-7100. You can even discuss your distress over your friend’s situation.

Practical steps you can take:

  • Educate yourself on the warning signs of domestic violence
  • Learn about safety planning so you can help your friend prepare a safety plan
  • Provide secure storage of clothing, cash, car keys, and other essentials
  • Escort her to the hospital or to meet the police. Offer to document her injuries with a photo

How To Help Someone Who’s Been Sexually Assaulted

Victims of sexual assault may feel more isolated than victims of domestic violence. If you know or think a friend or relative has been sexually assaulted, call the YWCA hotline at 413-733-7100 to discuss your options with a trained counselor.

You should listen and offer your friend your support and the resources she might need. Your support can include:

  • Calling 9-1-1 in an emergency
  • Accompanying her to the emergency room for medical attention
  • Accompanying her to the police station or to court to pursue prosecution of her abuser
  • Helping her change her environment to feel safer
  • Reinforcing the message that the assault was not her fault and that her feelings about it are natural
  • Respecting her decision, even if she decides not to do anything in the present