Do you suspect that a friend, relative, or someone you know is being abused? If so, don’t be afraid to offer help – you just might save someone’s life. Here are some basic steps you can take to assist someone who may be in an abusive relationship.

Approach your friend in an understanding, non-blaming way. Tell them that they are not alone, that there are other people in the same kind of situation, and that it takes strength to survive and trust someone enough to talk about battering.

Acknowledge that it is scary and difficult to talk about domestic violence. Tell this person that they don’t deserve to be threatened, hit, or beaten. Nothing a person can do or say makes the abuser’s violence OK.

Share information. Show your friend the Warning Signs, Violence and Non-Violence Wheels (available at the Sojourner House Advocacy & Resource Center/Drop-In). Discuss the dynamics of violence and how abuse is based on power and control.

Support this person as a friend. Be a good listener. Encourage the person to express their hurt and anger. Allow the person to make their own decision, even if it means not being ready to leave the abusive relationship.

Ask if your friend has suffered physical harm. Go with them to the hospital to check for injuries. Help report the assault to the police, if they choose to do so.

Provide information on help available to victims of abuse, including social services, emergency shelter, counseling services, and legal advice. To find this information, start with the resources listed on this website.

Inform your friend about legal protection that is available in most states under abuse prevention laws. Go with them to district, probate, or superior court to get a protective order to prevent further harassment by the abuser. If you can’t go, find someone who can.

Plan safe strategies for leaving an abusive relationship when and if your friend is ready to do this. Never encourage someone to follow a safety plan that the person believes will put them at further risk. And remember that your friend may not feel comfortable taking these materials with them.