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  • Writer's pictureInterval House of Ottawa

3 Ways to Support Someone Who Is Experiencing Abuse

two women talking on a couch

If you’re concerned that someone you care about may be experiencing abuse, you might feel clueless about the best way to help. Don’t let a fear of saying the wrong thing prevent you from reaching out. Here are three ways to support someone experiencing abuse.

1. Respect Where They’re At

There may be a situation in which you reach out to a friend and are told they aren’t interested in pursuing the conversation any further. That’s okay. Keep in mind that there are many different forms of abuse and many people may not recognize that they are in an abusive relationship. It may feel frustrating to not be able to do more but know that you’re already doing a lot

by simply letting your loved one know that you can

offer a safe, judgment-free space to talk.

2. Acknowledge and Support

If your loved one reaches out for support, acknowledge that they are in a very difficult and scary situation. Focus the conversation on your friend or family member, not the abusive partner, and let them know that the abuse is not their fault. Everyone deserves a healthy, violence-free relationship. You can remind them that they are not alone and that you will always be there and will respect their decisions. There are many reasons why people may choose to stay in an abusive relationship and leaving can be a very dangerous time. No one knows the relationship better than the people in it, so we must give them the power to do what they feel is right.

3. Offer Resources

There are many practical ways you can help someone who is experiencing abuse.

1. Offer information. Connect your loved one to resources in their community that can give them information and guidance. You could share resources like ShelterSafe or the Assaulted Women’s Helpline. Make sure they know how to search safely online for resources (i.e. using an incognito browsing window, deleting their browser history, etc.). If they don’t feel safe searching on their own device, you can offer to do some research for them.

2. Offer your space or time. You can offer to store some of your loved one’s belongings in case they need to leave their house in a hurry. You could also offer childcare while your friend accesses other resources, like a lawyer or medical professional.

3. Offer to help create a safety plan. You can offer to help create a plan that can be put into action should the violence escalate, or they decide to leave. Just the act of planning can help people visualize the process and help them prepare psychologically to action it. Make sure your friend knows that if they are in immediate danger, they should call 911.

Abuse doesn’t just affect the people directly involved. Don’t be afraid to reach out for your own support as you are helping your friend or family member. Your safety should always be kept a priority.

Interval House of Ottawa 24/7 crisis line: (613) 234-5181

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