Do's and Don'ts When Helping Others

I think my FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER is in an abusive relationship?


  • Check in on them often.  Make sure they have your number and know you are a safe place, and won't judge them.
  • Adults being abused often will not speak up say abuse. They will use phrases like, "We all walk on eggshells around.."  "I have done everything I can to make them happy, but it won't work." "I am just so scared to be around him/her anymore."  "I am afraid for...."  These phrases alone don't mean abuse is the issue, but MANY victims have used this type of descriptions before they defined it as abuse.  
  • Ask – Ask if help is needed for mundane tasks, errands or just to lend a hand.
  • Listen – When ready, let the survivor talk about the experience to acknowledge, validate and reduce isolation.
  • Reassure – Affirm you are not to blame for abuse and are not alone.
  • Research – Offer help finding answers and resources.
  • Support with Patience – There is not pre-determined healing timeline.


  • Pretend abuse is not happening - If you suspect, you are probably right.  Abuse is often hidden, especially from those we love the most.  It is hidden because of the victims shame and fear of the abuser intensifying the abuse
  • Minimize or Dismiss – By saying things like, "That's hard to believe they are such a nice person." or "Are you sure?" "Maybe it was a bad day." 
  • Share with others  – If you share with others you may make the situation much worse!  Abuse is often dependent upon secrecy and its ability through fear and power and control to keep it hidden. Once the victim speaks up danger escalates.
  • Joint counseling – If abuse is suspected, joint counseling is not a solution. Joint counseling is a future goal if both parties seek individual counseling for at least six months. 
  • Recommend a reckless 'snatch and grab' – Often there is a desire to help those who are hurting by driving by their home and dashing the vulnerable parties off to safety. Unfortunately, there is many factors to consider. Consult with experts, counselors or DV shelters or agencies to find the best solutions and next steps.