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.

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