How to help a friend
People often turn to their friends for help when they find themselves in abusive relationships. Often people in abusive relationships have limited resources to find help. If they come to you it is important to understand how complex abusive relationships can be and how difficult it might be to reach out for help.
Why don’t people leave?
When you ask a victim of abuse “why don’t you just leave?” the person might not feel supported or might feel like you are blaming them.
People stay for many reasons:
because they are in love
they think the bad things might go away
they might feel responsible for the abuse
they might want to help the abuser
they might financially depend on their abuser
Barriers to getting help
fear of hurting their partner’s feelings
fear that their friend will tell them to end the relationship
fear that they won’t be believed, understood, or that they will be blamed for what happened
fear that their parents won’t let them date anymore, or will get them in trouble
not knowing where to get help or how
fear that their partner will get mad and retaliate
not knowing how to make the situation better
fear of being judged
not trusting their abuser won’t find out
not wanting to admit it’s a problem
they might depend on their abuser for finances
they might be isolated from friends and family
Ways to help a friend
1. Don’t gossip
= how could you make sure your friend knows you won’t talk with other people about their situation?
2. Believe the story
= what would you do or say that shows your friend that you “Believe the story?”
3. Tell your friend that they DO NOT deserve to be abused
= how do you tell your friend they don’t deserve to be abused?
4. Let your friend make their own decisions
= how do you show your friend they can make their own decision?
5. Make a safety plan
= what should your friend consider when making a safety plan?
6. Give help/resources
= SPAN 24-hr Crisis and Information Hotline: 303.444.2424
= MESA 24-hr Sexual Assault Hotline: 303.443.7300
= National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: 1.866.331.9474
= Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN): 1.800.656.HOPE(4673)
= Break the Cycle: www.breakthecycle.org
= Hear my Voice (LGBTQ youth): hearmyvoice.breakthecycle.org/
= That’s Not Cool: www.thatsnotcool.com
= National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center: www.safeyouth.org
= Love is Respect: www.loveisrespect.org
If a friend comes to you for help, you now know that:
1. It can be difficult to seek help
2. To support a friend, you can show them you understand, believe them, and want to help.
3. You can also point them to community resources and let them make their own decisions.