Worried about someone else? 

It is important to support a friend or family member who's being abused, but it's not always easy. It can take a long time for someone to build up the courage to leave an abusive relationship and having someone there to support them can make a real difference.

If your friend or family member feels supported and encouraged, they may feel stronger and more able to make decisions. If they feel judged or criticized, they might not tell anyone again, so listening and supporting is very important.

Do's and don’ts when helping someone who is a victim of abuse:

Don't:

  • Blame them
  • Say "why do you put up with it?"
  • Try and work out why they're being abused, concentrate on being supportive
  • Be impatient if they're confused about what to do. It is really hard for anyone to end a relationship, and it is especially hard if they are scared and being abused

Do:

  • Use supportive language and questioning, for example "I'm worried about you because..." or "Is everything OK?" 
  • Tell them "I'm here if you want to talk"
  • Listen to and believe what they are telling you
  • Acknowledge how strong they are and how well they are coping
  • Take it seriously. Help them work out how to stay safe
  • Support them, whether they decide to stay or leave - they will need you to stick by them
  • Encourage them to speak to an agency who can help them
  • Help to build their confidence and feel better
  • Spend time with them doing things they enjoy

It will be tough to watch your loved one as they waver back and forth between staying and leaving an unhealthy relationship. You will be tempted to take control and do all the work in getting them out. Avoid the temptation to be a saviour.

Let the person know that they are not alone and give them resources and numbers they can call. Offer to help draft their questions and talking points or even visit a service provider together. Practical help, like babysitting children while the victim goes to an appointment, can be a big help and gives them back some control.