Help a friend

“Leaving an abuser is a very dangerous time for a victim.”

When we see someone we care about who is in an unhealthy or dangerous relationship we often want to tell them to leave. Our goal at WAVE is to support the victim in making their own choice and providing safety planning along the way.

How to support a victim. It is your business.

Offer Support to a Victim of Domestic Violence with these supportive words:

“I’m afraid for your safety.”

“I’m afraid for your children’s safety.”

“Abuse often gets worse over time.”

“I’m here for you when you are ready.”

“No one deserves to be abused.”

Believe them, even when victims talk about what is really happening, many times they are not believed because the abuser is well thought of in the family and/or the community.  Support them.  If you can, help with a safe place to stay, money, or childcare. Do not ask why they stay in the abusive relationship; it places blame on the victim and this is not their fault.


Approach the subject in a non-blaming way. Tell them that they are not alone and that they are courageous to talk about their experience.

Acknowledge that it is scary and difficult to talk about domestic violence.

Ask instead of telling and don’t tell them what to do. “I have plenty of time, whatever you want to talk about I’m here for you.” … “What would you like to happen?”… “What is it like for you?”… “What do you need?”

Listen instead of talking … “I won’t tell anybody what you tell me, unless you want me to or we decide it would be helpful.”

Be an active listener by responding to them – but avoid anger, disappointment or judgments.

Be patient- Leaving an abuser is a very dangerous time for a victim. Research indicates that women who leave their batterers are at 75% greater risk of being killed by their batterer than those who stay. Therefore, victims must do it in their own time. Don’t give up!

Do not control them– Often it is tempting to tell a victim that they need to leave the situation for their own safety, but as statistics show, it is a very dangerous time. For this reason, leaving is the victims decision to make whenever they are ready. Also remember the victim is coming from a controlling situation. You do not want to control them even further by telling them what to do.

Inform them– Inform the victim of options and opportunities. Be knowledgeable about financial, housing, and mental health resources in the community. Supply phone numbers, addresses, and information about counseling, support groups, and times. Do not make phone calls or appointments for them. Encourage the victim, do not pressure them.

Tell victims again and again- You can get help. You do not deserve this. It is not your fault. I am here for you.


Believe the victim.

Respect their choices.

Empathize with their emotional strain, stress and disappointment.

Acknowledge the difficulty of their situation.

React to what they tell you with compassion.

Be prepared for anything – a short, unrevealing answer or the flood gates opening. They may deny that they need help or recite a full-blown list of immediate needs.

Take it slow and break it down into manageable steps.

Try again if they’re reluctant to or won’t confide in you.



“I’m afraid for your partner’s safety.”

“I’m afraid for your children’s safety.”

“This makes me really uncomfortable. It’s not right.”

“I’m here for you when you are ready for change.”

“No one, including you, has the right to abuse another.”

“Domestic violence is a crime. You could be arrested for this.”

“Loving your partner doesn’t include abusing them.”