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How to Help a Friend Who is in an Abusive Relationship

Imagine your best friend, the person you go to for everything, the person who you admire and love endlessly, tells you they are being mistreated by their significant other. What would you do? What would you say? 

Although it is not something we enjoy spending our time thinking about, knowing what to say can give you a leg to stand on when a friend is in need. You want to be able to have an open and safe conversation away from judgement or accusations so that your friend feels comfortable discussing the topic with you. 

Here are some phrases you can use to ensure your friend that you hear them and you support them. 

 

How does it make you feel when your partner  ______? 

  • Doesn't let you hang out with your friends 

  • Always wants to know where you are and what you are doing 

  • Patronizes you 

  • Disputes your feelings 

Asking “how does this make you feel,” will give your friend the chance to take a moment, step back, and self reflect. Oftentimes in abusive relationships, the person being abused is so caught up in trying to please their abuser that they don't consider their own emotions. Ask the question, and give them time to process their thoughts and talk out their feelings. 

You deserve to be respected by your partner.

Whether your friend is enduring physical or emotional abuse, make sure you affirm their worth during your conversation. Remind them that they should be loved and appreciated for who they are and they deserve to be valued by their partner. 

Thank you for sharing with me. I know this is hard for you. 

Acknowledge your friend’s pain, and thank them for opening up to you. These words will help solidify that your friend did the right thing by coming to you with the issue. Make sure you let them know that you only want the best for them and that they can trust you moving forward. 

 

No matter how much you care for your friend, and hate the person who is bringing them pain, it is important to remember that they must be the one to make the decision to step away. It is your job as a friend to support them no matter what they decide to do and to be there whenever they need to talk.