How to speak to someone you know who is being abused by their partner

Two people's hands coming together to form a heart

You may know someone who has been abused by their partner. It can be devastating to see someone you care about being hurt. You may be able to spot the signs of abusive behavior. However, the person being abused may not be able to or want to leave.  So how can you help in this type of situation?

You want to be there for your friend but you may not understand why they continue to be with someone who hurts them; be it emotionally, physically, or financially.  It is important to keep in mind that it is not the abused person’s fault for being in an abusive relationship. Before confronting someone, ensure that you understand intimate partner violence and why women stay. Understanding why abuse occurs will help you speak to the person who is experiencing it.

After learning about intimate partner violence, choose a time where you can be alone with your friend so that you can speak to them privately. Tell them that you’re concerned about their well-being. If you place shame, blame, or guilt on the abused person, there’s the possibility that you’ll further isolate them. They may already be feeling afraid and alone, it is your job to make sure they know that you are there for them.  Ensure that you’re open and that your concerns are coming from a place of love and support. They may deny that there’s a problem. Remind them that you are there to support and help them. And that whether they decide to stay or leave, you will support their decision.

Let them know that it is not their fault. Abusers will often try to isolate their victims from their friends and families to prevent them from leaving. It is therefore, so important that you stay in touch with the person who being abused.  Encourage them to seek help and let them know that they are supported.