Helping a Friend in an Abusive Relationship
If a friend is in an abusive relationship, it can be hard to know what to do or say.
Here are some tips:
- Never blame them for the abuse – abuse is NEVER the victim’s fault! The responsibility should be placed on the abuser.
- Tell them, “It’s not your fault,” and “You don’t deserve to be hurt.”
- Let them talk, don’t interrupt, and believe them. It is important to listen and believe them- regardless of your opinion!
- You can call out the abusive behavior, but it’s important NOT to put down their boyfriend or girlfriend. If you call their boyfriend/girlfriend names, your friend will likely get defensive and may not feel like you’re a safe person to talk to in the future.
- Understand that your friend might not be ready to leave the relationship. It takes an average of 7 times for someone to leave an abusive relationship. It’s about readiness; there is no set time for when someone “should be ready to leave.”
- Keep the door of communication open so they know you are a safe person to talk to. Tell your friend that when they are ready to leave, you will be there to support them.
- Suggest help and resources for your friend, such as the Teen Alert Program or other community resources.
Warning signs that a friend may be in an abusive relationship:
- Your friend stops hanging out with you or makes excuses why they need to cancel plans. You feel like you lost your friend.
- They skip school, sports practice, hobbies, or work. Perhaps they quit a sports team or hobby that you know they really enjoy.
- They are constantly checking their phone when they are with you and seem anxious about returning texts/calls immediately. They might appear scared or worried about being late to meet their boyfriend or girlfriend.
- They have bruises, scratches, or marks that they blame on “accidents.” Maybe they change their style of clothes to cover up these marks.
- Their mood and behavior changes drastically. For example, they may seem anxious, nervous, or have a drop in self-esteem. Perhaps they aren’t as happy or excited about things they used to enjoy or frequently fight with their friends/family about their boyfriend/girlfriend.