stepping up >> talking to your friends >> abusers

Think your friend is being abusive? Here are some tips to step in and get the conversation started.

  • Talk with your friend in a safe place. How do you think your friend will react to this conversation? Choose a place that is safe for you to talk. If you feel uncomfortable, consider asking another friend to accompany you, or involve a trusted adult.


  • Tell your friend that you are concerned. Talk about the behaviors you’ve seen or things you’ve heard that concern you. Be specific. “I’ve noticed that you seem angry lately, and that you have been flying off the handle. What’s going on?” or “I heard you guys arguing yesterday. I didn’t like it when you cursed at your partner in front of everyone.”


  • Listen to what your friend has to say. Encourage your friend to talk with you honestly. Your friend may blame the victim for the abusive behavior. It is important to emphasize that abuse is the choice of the abuser. Help your friend clarify their thoughts and feelings. For example, jealousy doesn't equal love or physical violence doesn't equal acceptable way to express anger.


  • Let them make decisions. While we can take a stand against abuse we cannot force someone to stop being abusive. Your friend will have to choose not to abuse. You can encourage your friend to not be abusive and not condone abusive behaviors. “I’m not going to stand by silently while you do this.” “I think you’re a good friend, but I don’t support the way you treat your partner.”


  • Offer resources and information. Talk about dating abuse: what it is, who it affects, and resources that are available for abusers. Let your friend know that dating abuse is not “normal” or acceptable.


  • Encourage your friend to get help. Connect your friend with professional resources in your area, or ask a trusted adult (a teacher, coach, parent, community police officer) to talk with your friend about their abusive behavior. Discuss concrete ways you can support your friend as they work to change their behavior, whether its hanging out with them once a week, pointing out abusive behavior, or accompanying them to counseling sessions.
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