How friends and families can help
If a woman who is being abused comes to you for help, you can:
Listen to her and let her talk about what's happened.
It's important to be understanding and supportive. She may feel she
caused the abuse to happen and that she is to blame. It's important
for both of you to keep in mind that no one has the right to abuse
Do not offer excuses for the violence and do not minimize the
seriousness of what has happened. You shouldn't worry about "taking
sides" if you know and care about both partners in the abusive relationship.
Offering support and helping a woman find resources that can assist her does
not imply you are choosing sides.
Respect her confidentiality.
Help her find a safe place to stay.
For a woman who is abused, her safety is of the utmost importance. In a
crisis situation, it's important for you to remain calm and to offer support
by identifying options, such as an assaulted
Support her if she chooses to call the police. You can assist further by
helping her locate additional resources such as legal aid and counseling.
Even if you don't necessarily agree with a victim's decisions, be supportive.
The only exception to this, of course, is
if a woman's decisions are clearly dangerous, harmful, or illegal.
Set limits and be clear about them.
Set limits to which you are willing to be involved and in what ways you can
help. Be clear. Many women who are abused feel ashamed and violated—it's
difficult to confide in others and to disclose abuse. Do not breach the
trust placed in you by the victim. Let her know whether you intend to do anything
and, if so, what.
You may offer help and support with the best of intentions, but ultimately,
a woman's decisions are her own. Don't be offended if she doesn't follow
the advice you give.
Examine your own feelings and attitudes.
Remember that domestic violence transcends age, race, ethnicity,
religion, socioeconomic status, education, sexual orientation,
and physical/mental ability. If you are not lesbian, examine your
assumptions. They may reflect certain myths about lesbian
relationships. Don't assume an abused woman's partner is male—
abuse occurs in lesbian relationships
If someone who has been abusive confides in you
Occasionally, people who have been abusive turn to friends for help.
If an abusive person confides in you:
Let him/her know that her violence and abuse are unacceptable.
There is never any excuse or justification for violence. Perpetrators often
believe an apology will solve the problem and relieve them of responsibility.
It will do neither. No one has the right to hurt someone else.
Support him/her and encourage him/her to get help.
Perpetrators must take responsibility for their behavior.
Offer to assist him/her in locating resources.
Assist him/her in finding a counsellor, support group, or other
community resources that work with abusers. He/she needs to understand the
consequences of his/her violent behavior and to learn to control it. He/she
may also have other issues such as alcohol
or substance abuse, a history of
childhood abuse, or other stressors/factors that contribute to his/her
own abusiveness. These issues do not excuse violent behavior, but
they do need to be identified and addressed.
Keep in contact.
Remain in contact with the abuser and provide ongoing support to ensure he/she
gets helps and stops his/her violent behaviour. The community may isolate him/her
because of his/her behaviour and as a result, he/she may withdraw without
seeking the help he/she needs.