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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:

= Hear my Voice (LGBTQ youth):

= That’s Not Cool:

= National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center:

= Love is Respect:


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.