How to Support Friends & Family Who May Be Experiencing Abuse or Violence


Learn the warning signs & offer support.


Are you worried about a friend or family member? You can help.

Warning signs

First, recognize the warning signs of abuse:

  • Jealous partner
  • Staying away from other people
  • Sudden changes in personality and appearance
  • Missing work or school
  • Afraid of conflict
  • Blames herself or himself for relationship problems
  • Frequent injuries

Learn more about warning signs.

How to help

It can be very uncomfortable to reach out to someone who is being abused. But your doing so could save a life. While these tips say “she” and “her,” they also apply to men who are being abused:

  • Don’t be afraid to tell her you are worried about her safety. Tell her you see what is going on and that you want to help. Help her recognize that what is happening is not normal and that she deserves a healthy, non-violent relationship.
  • Acknowledge that she is in a very difficult and scary situation. Reassure her that she is not alone and that help and support is out there.
  • Help her find a way to safety and peace in her own time. Remember that you cannot rescue her. Although it is hard to see someone you care about get hurt, ultimately she has to decide to do something about it.
  • Be supportive. Listen to your friend or family member. Remember that it may be difficult for her to talk about the abuse. Let her know that you are available to help whenever she may need it. What she needs most is someone who will believe in and listen to her.
  • Be non-judgmental. Respect her decisions. There are many reasons why victims stay in abusive relationships. She may leave and return to the relationship many times. Do not criticize her decisions or try to guilt her. She will need your support even more during those times.
  • Help her develop a safety plan. Help her identify the support systems and resources available to her when the violence increases.
  • If she ends the relationship, continue to support her. Even though the relationship was abusive, your loved one may still feel sad and lonely once it is over. She will need time to mourn the loss of the relationship and will especially need your support at that time.
  • Encourage her to talk to people who can provide help and guidance. Offer to go with her to talk to family and friends. If she has to go to the police, court, or a lawyer, offer to go along for moral support.
  • The Advocates of Lake County (719-486-3530) can help if she lives in Lake County, Colorado, or if you do. Continuum of caring
  • For services outside of Lake County, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-SAFE (7233)) or visit the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV).
  • Depending on what stage of abuse the survivor is in, he or she may need various services on the Continuum of Caring.
  • Take care of yourself. Seeing someone you care about in pain can be traumatic for you. Seek the help and support that you need, while still respecting your loved one’s privacy and confidentiality.

Who to call

If you believe someone is in physical danger, call 911 now. Give law enforcement as many details as possible.
If the victim is ready to get help, or you would like help in guiding the victim, call a hotline:

  • Advocates of Lake County (if you live in Lake County or the victim does): 719-486-3530
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline (for services outside Lake County): 800-799-7233

Find additional resources, including more information about domestic violence and sexual assault.