Front page and index
About The Coalition
Why Do Abusers Batter?
Barriers To Leaving
The Effects on Children
Dating Violence
The Facts about DV
How can I help my friend?
PFAs & DV laws
Links to online DV sources
Plan for your safety
A map of Alabama shelters
Victims Stories
How can I help my friend?

If you know someone who is being abused, you can help her by showing you care. Let her speak confidentially about her situation and without judgment. You may be the only person with whom she feels comfortable. Show you care in these ways:

  • Listen to her.
  • Believe her.
  • Do not minimize her struggle.
  • Do not judge her.
  • Do not blame her.
  • Assure her that she is not responsible for the abuse.
  • Tell her it's not her fault. You can never make someone else hurt you.
  • Give her Alabama's toll-free crisis line number for domestic violence victims.
  • Direct her to resources in her community for victims of domestic violence.
  • Let her keep important papers and extra clothes at your house.
  • Help when you can with transportation, child care, groceries.

Tell her she deserves to be safe. Physical violence in a relationship is never acceptable. Remind her that no one deserves to be beaten.

Help her learn not to deny or minimize the abuse. If she says, "It's really not that bad," tell her it is serious.

Assure your friend that violence in her home does concern you. There is no excuse for abuse. No one deserves to be abused. Domestic violence is a crime.

How do I know if my friend is being abused?

  • Have you seen evidence of injuries?
  • Have you accepted her explanations for her black eyes, bruises or broken bones?
  • Does she miss work frequently?
  • Does her partner show an unusual amount of control over her life?
  • Have you noticed changes in her or her children's behavior?
  • Does her partner embarrass or ridicule her in public?
  • Does her partner blame her for the way he acts or the things he says?

Common Myths about Domestic Violence

A friend's perspective

Why should I get involved in her problem--isn't it just a family matter?
Domestic violence is not just a family problem, it is a crime.

It can't really be that bad.
Domestic violence is that bad. It is the single most common source of injury to women, more common than automobile accidents, muggings, and rape by a stranger combined. It increases in severity and frequency over time. It is estimated that over 2 million American women are beaten in their homes each year. It is a crime.

That doesn't happen in my neighborhood.
Domestic violence occurs among all races, ages, religions and socio-economic levels. No state, no city, no community and no neighborhood is immune.

She must be provoking him.
She is a victim and is not to blame. No one deserves to be beaten. The abuser chooses to abuse her to maintain power and control in the relationship.

If it's so bad, why doesn't she just leave?
Any relationship can be difficult to end. She may be financially dependent or have limited job skills. Religious, cultural or family pressures may keep her in the marriage. She may have tried to leave and he stopped her; he may have threatened to take the children from her, or harm her more if she leaves him. Over 75 percent of women are killed after they leave an abusive partner.

I know him--he seems like a nice guy.
Many abusers are not violent in other relationships. They even can appear 'charming' to outsiders. However, this does not indicate the kind of person he is behind closed doors. Believe her.

He has a drinking problem. May be if he just got help for it, he'd stop abusing her.
Alcohol and drug use many intensify violent behavior, but it does not cause battering. Men are abusive with and without alcohol and drugs. Abusers want all the power and control in the relationship and that is their motivation; not the substances they use or abuse.

If she wanted my help, she'd ask for it.
Your friend may not feel comfortable revealing her situation to you. She may be embarrassed or humiliated.

She seems distant. I don't know if we're still friends.
Women in violent homes are often isolated from friends and family by their abusers. The abuser wants total control and does not want her talking to others. It is important to continue to reach out to her, and let her know you care.

Adapted from the National Woman Abuse Prevention program.

Five things to say to your abused friend:

"I am afraid for your safety/life."

"I am afraid for your children’s safety/lives."

"It will only get worse."

"You deserve better."

"I will be there for you when and if you ever need me."

What Can I do?

Focus on her strengths. Give her the emotional support to know she is a good person.

Read about domestic violence. Learn the stories of other victims, so you can help your friend understand she is not alone.

Encourage her to develop a safety plan, to think of ways to escape quickly.

Help when you can with transportation, child care, groceries.

Consider volunteering for your local shelter program.

Be patient. It takes time to bring about change. There are many barriers. Your friend has many decisions to make.