For Family & Friends

Sky

 Are you concerned that someone you care about is experiencing abuse? Maybe you’ve noticed some warning signs, including:

  • Their partner puts them down in front of other people

  • They are constantly worried about making their partner angry

  • They make excuses for their partner’s behavior

  • Their partner is extremely jealous or possessive

  • They have unexplained marks or injuries

  • They’ve stopped spending time with friends and family

  • They are depressed or anxious, or you notice changes in their personality

 

Your instinct may be to “save” them from the relationship, but it’s not that easy.

 

After all, there are many reasons why people stay in abusive relationships, and leaving can be a very dangerous time for a victim. However, there are many ways to support your loved one (see below).

We are here for friends and family members too! 

Caring

How To Help A Friend Or Family Member Who Is In An Abusive Relationship

ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THEY ARE IN A VERY DIFFICULT AND SCARY SITUATION, BE SUPPORTIVE AND LISTEN.

 

  • Let them know that the abuse is not their fault. Reassure them that they are not alone and that there is help and support out there. It may be difficult for them to talk about the abuse. Let them know that you are available to help whenever they may need it. What they need most is someone who will believe and listen.

BE NON-JUDGMENTAL.

  • Respect your friend or family member’s decisions. There are many reasons why victims stay in abusive relationships. They may leave and return to the relationship many times. Do not criticize their decisions or try to guilt them. They will need your support even more during those times.

HELP THEM DEVELOP A SAFETY PLAN.

  • Check out our information on creating a safety plan for wherever they are in their relationship — whether they’re choosing to stay, preparing to leave, or have already left.

IF THEY END THE RELATIONSHIP, CONTINUE TO BE SUPPORTIVE OF THEM.

  • Even though the relationship was abusive, your friend or family member may still feel sad and lonely once it is over. They will need time to mourn the loss of the relationship and will especially need your support at that time.

ENCOURAGE THEM TO PARTICIPATE IN ACTIVITIES OUTSIDE OF THE RELATIONSHIP WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY.

  • Support is critical and the more they feel supported by people who care for them, the easier it will be for them to take the steps necessary to get and stay safe away from their abusive partner. Remember that you can call the hotline to find local support groups and information on staying safe.

KNOW ABUSE CAN HAPPEN IN ANY RELATIONSHIP.

  • Interpersonal violence can occur in all types of relationships - straight, gay, dating, married, between siblings as well as friends. 

ENCOURAGE THEM TO TALK TO PEOPLE WHO CAN PROVIDE HELP AND GUIDANCE.

  • Find a local domestic violence agency that provides counseling or support groups. Call us at (530) 272-3467 to get a referral to one of these programs near you. Offer to go with them. If they have to go to the police, court or lawyer’s office, offer to go along for moral support.

REMEMBER THAT YOU CANNOT “RESCUE” THEM.

  • Although it is difficult to see someone you care about get hurt, ultimately they are the one who has to make the decisions about what they want to do. It’s important for you to support them no matter what they decide, and help them find a way to safety and peace.

OUR ADVOCATES ARE HERE FOR YOU TOO!

  • Our advocates are trained to support friends and family of persons who are experiencing interpersonal violence. We recommend you getting support as well to help you process your emotions and provide additional resources.

How To Help A Friend Or Family Member Who Has Been Sexually Assaulted

  •  Believe them.

  •  Listen.

  •  Be patient. Remember, it will take your loved one some time to deal with the crime and to heal.

  •  Be clear in reminding them that the rape was not their fault.

  •  Validate the survivor’s strengths.

  • Help to empower your loved one.

    • Rape and sexual violence are crimes that take away an individual’s power, it is important not to compound this experience by putting pressure on your loved one to do things that he or she is not ready to do yet.

  •  If you are dealing with an issue involving your child, create a safe place by talking directly to them.

  • Understand that your relationship with your loved one may change.

    • Do not blame them for that change, but accept that it is a positive path toward healing.

  •  Help them to seek professional help if they need it.

  •  Do not sympathize with the abuser.

  • Help to validate the damage that was caused by the abuse.

  •  Practice self-care – remember, helping a loved one is painful for you too, do not forget to care for yourself!