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Young peopleyou're not alone

How to help a friend

If your friend or family member is experiencing the serious and painful effects of relationship abuse, they may have a very different point of view from yours. Their partner may have told them that the abuse was their fault and feel responsible. If they do choose to leave, they may feel sad and lonely when it’s over, even though the relationship was abusive. They may get back together with their ex many times, even though you want them to stay apart. Remember that it may be difficult for your friend to even bring up a conversation about the abuse they’re experiencing.

What Can I Do?

Don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend who you think needs help. Tell them you’re  concerned for their safety and want to help.

Believe them. Remember it is not up to you to decide whether your friend is telling the truth, just listen to them and believe them. Talking to someone else about abuse and domestic violence can be very difficult.

Encourage your friend to speak to an adult they trust, offer to go with them if need be.

Encourage your friend to call a helpline or offer to call for them

Be supportive and listen patiently. Acknowledge their feelings and be respectful of their decisions. Don’t judge or criticise, just thank them for trusting you enough to talk to them

Help your friend recognise that the abuse is not “normal” and is NOT their fault. Everyone deserves a healthy, non-violent relationship.

Help them develop a safety plan

If they break up with the abusive partner, continue to be supportive after the relationship is over.

Even when you feel like there’s nothing you can do, don’t forget that by being supportive and caring — you’re already doing a lot.

Don’t contact their abuser or publicly post negative things about them online. It’ll only worsen the situation for your friend.

But my friend is the abuser

It is difficult to see someone you care about hurt others. You may not even want to admit that your friend or family member is abusive. But remember, when you remain silent or make excuses, you’re encouraging their hurtful ways.

Ultimately, the abuser is the only person who can decide to change, but there are things you can do to encourage them to be better. It’s not easy for abusive people to admit that their behavior is a choice and accept responsibility for it. Do not support the abuse in any way. Remember, you’re not turning against your friend or family member — you’re just helping them have a healthy relationship.

Learn the warning signs of abuse so you can help your friend or family member recognise their unhealthy or abusive behaviours.

Your friend may try to blame their victim for the abuse. Don’t support these feelings or help justify the abuse.

Help your abusive friend to focus on the victim’s feelings and the serious harm the victim  may be experiencing. Don’t support your friend’s efforts to minimise the severity of their behaviour.

Don’t ignore abuse you see or hear about. Your silence helps the abusive person deny that their behaviour is wrong.

Convince your friend that getting professional help is important. Encourage him or her to seek help and have a list of resources ready.

Set an example by having healthy relationships in your own life.