Every year, more than 10 million Americans will experience psychological and physical abuse from a loved one. This is a sobering statistic that means you likely know someone who has been in an abusive relationship or will experience one in the future.
At some point, a friend or family member may open up to you about their abusive situation and ask for your help. Or, you may notice signs you cannot ignore. While this puts you in a delicate situation, your help may save a life.
If you have been wondering how to help someone in an abusive relationship, this short and simple guide is for you.
Listen Without Judgment
One of the most important things you can do when you are helping someone in an abusive relationship is to listen without judgment. This means listening without offering your opinion or giving advice. Opening up about an abusive relationship is hard so it’s important to actively listen and allow them to fully share their story.
Don’t Make Excuses for the Abuser
When helping a friend in an abusive relationship, avoid making excuses for the abuser. While it can be hard to process that someone is being abused, making excuses comes across as victim-blaming. There is no excuse for abuse and letting your loved one know it is not their fault is a great way to offer support.
Document the Abuse
If there is any evidence of the abuse, it’s important to document the abuse. While your loved one may not be ready to report their abuser, having proof of the abuse is essential. Carefully and thoroughly document the abuse so you can have a record of it should you need it later.
Ask How You Can Help
When someone shares they are being abused, it can be easy to think of all the things you can do to help them. Telling them all of this at once can feel overwhelming and might not be what they need. Consider asking what they need from you and use that as a starting point for your support.
Contact an Advocacy Center
If your loved one is ready, you can help them contact an advocacy center to get more information about victim’s rights and what they need to do to leave the relationship. An advocacy program can help them make a plan for their future, whatever that might be. This is ideal if they need support that is outside your area of expertise.
This Is How to Help Someone in an Abusive Relationship
By following these steps for how to help someone in an abusive relationship, you can offer your help while keeping both of you as safe as possible.
Listen without judgment, and believe the story you are hearing. Don’t make excuses for the abuser, instead, ask how you can help. Document the abuse and use resources and information to make a safety plan.
You may also want to contact an advocacy center for additional help.
If you are dealing with domestic violence and need an attorney, please don’t hesitate to contact us immediately.