How do I help a friend who is in an abusive relationship?
If you see someone being physically abused, call 911 immediately.
In many cases, the first step to safety is the knowledge that the victim is not alone and that they are not crazy. It may help your friend to know that many people experience abuse and that there are resources to get help.
Be supportive and respectful. Make clear statements about your friend’s value and rights as a person, such as, “No one deserves to be abused.”
Don’t criticize the abuser. A victim often has conflicting feelings about the abusive partner. If you’re critical of the abuser, the victim may become defensive or may shut down. Instead, you can talk about behaviors that are negative by saying something like, “I’m really concerned about how your partner treats you. Nobody has the right to put someone else down.”
Find out about the resources that are available.
Learn as much as you can about dating/domestic abuse.
Encourage your friend to make a safety plan if they have decided to leave the relationship. Your part in a safety plan can include walking home together, checking in at certain times of the day, and having a code word your friend can use if they need immediate help.
Do not confront the abuser. This can result in an escalation of violence against the victim.
Do not slip a hotline card or any other information about abuse into someone’s bag or under a door. This can also escalate the violence against the victim.
Do not send a voicemail message or an email message about the abuse to your friend. You do not know if the abuser is monitoring the phone or the computer.
Be careful for yourself. Let your friend know what you are comfortable doing and what your boundaries are. You can also get support for yourself from the available resources.
Contact an on-campus resource:
Shepherd University Counseling Center, 304-876-5161
Dave Cole, Dean of Students
Dr. Marie DeWalt, Title IX Coordinator
Any member of the Shepherd University Police Department