Domestic violence against women: how to help a friend

If you're worried that a friend is being abused, here's how to offer her the support she needs. 

The Women's Aid Survivor's Handbook is free and provides information in 11 languages on seeking help and support

Teresa Parker from Women’s Aid, a charity working to end domestic violence, says, "It may be hard to know what to do or say as your friend may not want to talk about it, but let her know you've noticed something's wrong.

"Encourage her to talk. If she doesn't want to, wait and keep trying to find another quiet time to raise the subject later on."

There are some basic steps you can take to support anyone who confides in you that they're suffering domestic abuse.

  • Listen to her, and take care not to blame her. Tell her that there are many women like her in the same situation.
  • Acknowledge that it takes strength to talk to someone about experiencing abuse. Give her time to talk, but don't push her to talk if she doesn't want to.
  • Acknowledge that she is in a frightening and difficult situation.
  • Tell her that no one deserves to be threatened or beaten, despite what her abuser has told her. Nothing she does or says justifies the abuser's behaviour.
  • Support her as a friend. Encourage her to express her feelings, and allow her to make her own decisions.
  • Don't tell her to leave the relationship if she isn’t ready. That's her decision.
  • Ask if she has suffered physical harm. If so, offer to go with her to a hospital or GP.
  • Help her to report the assault to the police if she chooses to.
  • Be ready to provide information on organisations that offer help. Tell her about the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline (0808 2000 247) and how to access The Survivor's Handbook.

Anyone who has been sexually assaulted can get confidential help, treatment and support at a Sexual Assault Referral Centre. Find your nearest Sexual Assault Referral Centre.

Read advice for domestic abuse against men.

Domestic violence

Two women describe their experiences of domestic abuse. Find out how they found the strength and support to move on. Contact the National Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 2000 247 if you need more advise or look for support in your local area.

Media last reviewed: 16/06/2015

Next review due: 16/06/2017

Page last reviewed: 30/06/2014

Next review due: 30/06/2016

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