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Maybe you know someone who is in an abusive relationship. Maybe a friend has been sexually assaulted. What can you do? What should you say? Where do you go? Click here to go to our "Be a Resource" page for more information and help.

What Can I Do?

If you know or suspect that someone is a victim of domestic violence, you might feel clueless about the best way to help. Don’t let fear of saying the wrong thing prevent you from reaching out. Waiting for the perfect words could keep you from seizing the opportunity to change a life.

The world for many domestic abuse victims can be lonely, isolated, and filled with fear. Sometimes reaching out and letting them know that you are there for them can provide tremendous relief. Use the nine tips that follow to help you support someone in this vulnerable situation.

Here are some quick tips:

  • Make Time for the Domestic Violence Victim
  • Listen Without Judgment
  • Believe the Victim
  • Validate the Victim’s Feelings
  • Offer Specific Help
  • Help Form a Safety Plan
  • Remember don’t push your desire that they leave.  Let them lead the discussion.

What Not to Do or Say

Although there is no right or wrong way to help a victim of domestic violence, you want to avoid doing anything that will make the situation worse. Here are some “don’ts” the experts suggest you avoid:

• Avoid bashing the abuser. Focus on the behavior, not the personality.
• Never blame the victim. That’s what the abuser does.
• Don’t underestimate the potential danger for the victim and yourself.
• Don’t promise any help that you can’t follow through with.
• Don’t give conditional support.
• Don’t do anything that might provoke the abuser.
• Don’t pressure the victim.
• Don’t give up. If she is not willing to open up at first, be patient.
• Don’t do anything to make it more difficult for the victim.