How to Help a Victim of Domestic Violence

If you know someone in a violent relationship don't be afraid to offer help. You just might save someone's life. Here are some basic steps you can take to assist someone who may be the target of domestic violence.

Approach your friend in an understanding and non-blaming way. Tell her that she is not alone, that there are people like her in the same situation and that it takes strength to survive and trust someone enough to talk about the abuse.

Acknowledge that it is scary and difficult to talk about domestic violence. Tell that she doesn't deserve to be threatened, hit or beaten. Nothing a person can do or say makes the abuser's violence OK.

Share information. Show your friend the Warning List. Discuss the dynamics of violence and how abuse is based on power and control.

Support the person as a friend. Be a good listener. Encourage her to express her hurt and anger. Allow your friend to make her own decisions, even if it means not being ready to leave the abusive relationship.

Ask if your friend has suffered physical harm. Go with her to the hospital to check for injuries. Help report the assault to the police if she chooses to do so.

Provide information on help available to battered women, men and their children, including social services, emergency shelter, counseling services and legal advice. Safe Haven's hotline number for domestic violence is 888-774-2900 and for sexual assault 203-753-3613.

Inform your friend that Safe Haven will assist in applying for legal protection. Offer to accompany her to Safe Haven if she wishes.

Plan safe strategies for leaving an abusive relationship. These are called Safety Plans (see Safety Plans). Never encourage someone to follow a safety plan that the person believes will put her at further risk.