University of Vermont

How to Help a Friend Experiencing Relationship Violence.

Help them recognize the abuse.

  • Point out the different types of abuse in relationships, such as emotional, sexual, and physical abuse.
  • Tell them that abuse happens and hurts more over time.
  • Encourage them to call the Campus Victim's Advocate or another domestic violence support agency.

Express your concerns.

  • Tell them that you are glad they confided in you.
  • Let them know that you are sorry this is happening to them.
  • You can never say the following phrases too much: "I'm worried about you;" "It's not your fault;" "I'm glad that you told me about what you're going through;" "You deserve better;" and "I'm here for you."

Support their strength.

  • Help them recognize the strength they've shown in managing their lives and the abuse they've faced.
  • Help them see that they are not to blame for the violence and that changing their behavior will not stop the abuse.
  • Help them recognize the abuser's excuses for being violent.

Be accepting.

  • Tell them you are worried about their safety.
  • Let them know you are there for them, and mean it. Do not become upset if they are not ready to break off the relationship yet. Try to see that they are dealing with conflicting emotions - love and security from a partner, and fear from the abuse.
  • Understand that they may need to return to the abuser in order to be safe.

Work on a safety plan.

  • Help them think of ways to be safe.
  • Find local resources that can offer additional support.

Be there, listen, and stay there.

  • You may feel like a broken record that no one is listening to. Keep supporting them. By avoiding blame, they will know you are standing beside them.
  • When they are ready to end the relationship, continue to be supportive and try to help them get involved in activities and supportive services. It takes a long time to get over any relationship, especially one that is violent.
  • Help them resist the pressure from other friends, family members, etc. to get back together.

Reach out for help.

  • If you are frightened or frustrated, get support for yourself. Remember, you can't rescue or solve all of your friend's problems.
  • Crisis lines are available 24 hours a day and you don't have to give your name.
  • To reach the Campus Victim's Advocate, call (802) 656-7892.
  • In Vermont, to reach your nearest domestic violence program dial: 1-800-228-7395

Last modified May 09 2014 02:48 PM