stepping up >> talking to your friends >> survivors

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

  • Talk with your friend in a safe and private place. Go to the local park, coffee shop, or for a walk. Talk in the car. Sit on the porch or in the back yard. Let your friend decide if it is safe for them to talk.

  • Tell your friend that you are concerned. Talk about the behaviors you’ve seen or things you’ve heard that worry you. Be specific. “I’ve noticed that we don’t hang out as much lately. And that you look sad and tired a lot. Is everything ok?” or “I heard you guys arguing yesterday. Your partner always calls you names and puts you down in public. It makes me sad because you deserve better than that.”

  • Listen to what your friend has to say. Validate their feelings such as “I believe you” and “It’s not your fault.”

  • Let them make decisions. Your friend may not want to talk about their relationship. They may also want to leave or stay in their relationship. Respect their boundaries and decisions, but let them know you’ll be there if they want to talk: “I know you don’t want to talk about it right now, but if you ever do I’ll be here for you.” “Call me anytime if you want to talk.”

  • Offer resources and information. Talk about dating abuse: what it is, who it affects,
    and resources that are available. Let your friend know that dating abuse is real; that it is not “normal” and that they deserve a healthy, respectful relationship. Discuss concrete ways
    that you can help your friend, whether it’s going out with them once a week, recording abuse you see happening, helping them talk to an adult, or going with them to the police station for a restraining order.

  • Acknowledge that abuse can be scary. It can be frightening to think about leaving or staying in an abusive relationship. Talk to your friend about their legal and safety options -- involving adults, creating a safety plan, and getting a restraining order.

  • Encourage your friend to get involved. Abuse thrives in isolation -- connect your friends to a support network. Invite your friend to join in activities with you and other friends. Encourage them to continue or find other interests and friends outside of their relationship.
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