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How to help a friend in an abusive relationship
Listen, believe and validate. Let her/him have all of their feelings, including love for the abuser. Provide this support, no matter what her/his decisions; this may allow you to become a safe person in her/his life.
Maintain confidentiality. Do not discuss her/his situation with anyone that s/he has not yet told. Let her/him decide which friends s/he wants to tell. However, it is important to tell an adult that you trust, because adults can help your friend learn about her/his options and how to stay safe. If you’d like, offer to accompany your friend to talk with the adult together.
Never confront the abuser alone or the two of them together. This may jeopardize her/his safety and the abuser may hurt you.
Do not take over. Let her/him know that you are concerned about safety. Explore options with her/him, but remember that these are her/his decisions to make. Leaving is a process for survivors; on average, survivors leave 5 – 7 times before they quit the relationship for good. Keep in mind that separation is the most dangerous time for her/him.
Offer support and resources. Ask her/him what you can do to give support. Offer to accompany her/him to a court hearing, or an important meeting. Ask your parents if your friend can come to your house in an emergency. Know your own limits; don’t make a promise you won’t or can’t keep. Educate yourself about domestic violence. Refer her/him to LACASA for free and confidential services; offer to be there with her/him when s/he calls.
Value the person. Identify strengths and skills.Think of her/him as a resourceful and intelligent person. S/he has survived through extremely difficult circumstances. Give positive messages about self and worth.
Discuss options and safety plan. Ask what options s/he sees; discuss possibilities that you may notice. Point out legal options: calling the police to report an assault, getting a personal protection order, etc. Help them make a plan about what can be done if a violent situation occurs.
Contact LACASA or an adult you trust to discuss options for keeping your friend safe. If the abuser has come to school before, or is a student at your school, tell the school administrators so they can plan for her/his safety.
Help your friend stay connected. Isolation is usually present in abusive relationships. Keep in touch regularly, and arrange for the most appropriate times to talk. If that is not possible, find an adult who can check in with her/him.
Our toll-free help line is open 24 hours-a-day, 365 days a year. Call us with your questions or concerns.