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Helping a Friend Who Is Being Abused

Knowing that someone you care about is being abused is upsetting and frustrating. While supporting your friend, you may want to find someone that you can talk to about your own emotions at this time.

  • Believe your friend. Don’t question what they are telling you based on your experiences with the abuser or with domestic violence. Everyone’s experience is different!
  • Don’t blame your friend for their decisions whether they leave or stay. Leaving an abusive relationship is really difficult. Please be patient!
  • Assure your friend that they do not deserve to be abused and that they are not in any way responsible for the abuse. Communicate to your friend that what is happening is not their fault and the abuse is not OK.
  • Be aware of, and responsive to, any suicidal thoughts or feelings your friend may have.
  • Find out if they have a support system. Are there other people they could talk to about this?
  • Help your friend plan for safety.
  • Find out the name and number of your local domestic violence hotline/shelter, and give it to them.
  • Educate yourself about relationship violence as well.

If your friend is in a same-sex relationship, it can be even more difficult for them to talk about what is happening, especially if they’re not “out.” Learn more about same-sex abuse, and encourage them to do the same. Find resources in your community that have expertise in this area.

For additional domestic violence information:

Domestic Violence Unit
Police Headquarters
300 Indiana Avenue, NW, Room 3156
Washington, DC
Phone: (202) 727-7137
Fax: (202) 727-6491