Supporting a Friend who Experienced or is Experiencing Relationship Violence

If you are looking for information on relationship violence please click here.

This page is intended to be an introduction to some of the important things to keep in mind while supporting a friend who has experienced or is experiencing relationship violence.

From Nests and Wings: A Zine on Family and Partner Violence, Support and Healing



Avoid judging or blaming them. Listen closely. Reflect back what they are saying. Express your concern. Avoid demonizing their partner or family member; instead focus on the love, care, and kindness that they deserve.

Be available! 

Let them know you are there.  Even if they go back to their abuser.  It’s okay to let them know that you are worried and concerned, but do not get aggressive or angry because this will put them on the defense and prevent them from coming to you in the future. Keep the lines of communication open.


Find out what resources are available for your friend & for you. Provide this information to your friend & check things out for yourself, too. Offer to seek out help together.


Help them brainstorm options to get and stay safe.  Make sure they are the one coming up with the options and deciding which one is best for them.

Educate yourself!

Read books and zines about domestic violence so that you can have a better understanding and be a resource for others.

Take care of yourself! 

It is so easy to get wrapped up in other people’s lives because you care.  Make sure to take care of yourself.  Drink tea, take naps, and if you need to, find someone to support you!  You are not in this alone and there are people waiting to support you and your loved ones!

Safety Plan! 

Help them come up with a safety plan.  Tell your loved one that when they are ready to leave you would like to help.  It is very important to have a plan to ensure their safety.  If they are not ready to make a plan, give them the information of local resources, like RISE or Helpmate.

Safe Place!

Let them know that they are welcome to come and be with you without pressuring them to do so.  If you remain open to them coming to you without pressuring them, it will feel safer for them.


People in abusive relationships often do not get the chance to make decisions for themselves and giving them the opportunity to make choices can be the most empowering thing for them.

Talking to a Friend

It can be very difficult to start a conversation with a friend who you believe may be in an abusive relationship.  Here are some sentence starters and ideas:

    "Hey, it seems as though 'S' can be really jealous when you hang out with your friends and I am wondering how that makes you feel."

    "I am wondering how your relationship with 'M' is going and I just want you to know that I am here for you if you ever need me."

    "I know you have been concerned about your relationship with 'R' and I found this zine that RISE put out called Nests and Wings.  I thought it might help you figure out a bit of what's going on."

    "I want you to know that I support you no matter what and I am here for you if you ever need me."

    "'D's' behavior lately has been worrying me and I am wondering whether you feel as though you may be in danger."

    "I heard you and 'G' yelling at each other yesterday and I just wanted to check in with you and see if everything is alright and if there is any way I can support you."

    "I feel as though I haven't seen you in a while.  How are you doing?


Remember, you don't have to say something profound.  Just be open.  Give them choices and give them the opportunity to tell you.  Express your concern and show them that you care.  Also, you can contact RISE - we can help you develop a plan to talk to your friend.

Helpmate, Inc.

Helpmate provides safe, confidential shelter to women and children who are leaving dangerous and potentially lethal living situations. 

Services include:

  • Emergency Shelter for women and children
  • A 24-Hour Hotline
  • Individual and Group Counseling
  • Court Advocacy Programs,
  • and Preventative Education for professionals, community leaders, and groups considered at risk of being abused.

 Crisis Line: 828.254.0516