How You Can Help A Friend Or Family Member

Remember. . .

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.

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.

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. Click here for a Personalized Safety Plan from the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

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.

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 (314) 615-4642 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.1

Available Community Services

24-Hour Hotline
Advocates are available 24 hours a day to provide emergency help and emotional support, information, admission into shelter, and referrals.

One-on-one counseling provides information and emotional support. Counseling can also help you think about the choices and options that work best for you.

Support Groups
Support groups are a good place to learn about domestic violence, listen to other women who have been abused, and share your story, if you choose. Many women find that support groups help them feel less alone.

Services for Children
Many programs offer a chance for children to talk about what is happening in their lives, participate in activities, go on outings, and get help with schoolwork.3
For assistance in finding services that fit the survivors needs call us at (314) 615-4642 to get a referral to the programs near you.

3 What can a domestic violence program do for me? (2014). In Domestic violence: Finding safety and support - getting safe. Retrieved from New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence website:

Supporting your friend or family member at court

Supporting your friend or family member at court



Express concern.

Listen and validate.

Offer help.

Support her decisions.


Wait for them to come to you.

Judge or blame.

Pressure the survivor.

Give advice.

Place conditions on your support.2

1 How can you help a friend or family member? (2014). In Help for friends and family. Retrieved from The National Domestic Violence Hotline website:
2What you can do. (2014). In Domestic violence: Finding safety and support - friends, family and co-workers. Retrieved from DOs and DONTs website: