Help someone else

It can be very difficult for someone experiencing domestic abuse to reach out to a support service or the police. So, if you find out someone close to you is being abused, you could be the only person who knows.

As a friend, family member, or colleague, it’s not your responsibility to stop the abuse. But you can do a lot to help by following a few simple steps.


How to help – what should you say?

Remember these four things to tell your friend.

I'm sorry to hear that

Show your friend you believe them, and that you care. You might be shocked by the things you’ve been told, especially if you know the abuser. But remember, anyone can abuse or be abused, no matter how they seem on the face of it.

Why it’s important to say

Your friend is being bullied and hurt, so they probably feel low. You could be the first person they’ve ever told, and they might feel alone and scared. If you are caring, your friend knows that at least one person has their best interests at heart. Your positive response will support them to cope with the situation.

Thank you for telling me

Let your friend know they’ve made a brave and positive decision to talk to someone. Don’t push for details unless your friend wants to tell you. Be trustworthy: reassure them you won’t share information about the abuse with anyone else without their permission, unless it’s an emergency.

Why it’s important to say

There are many reasons why people experiencing abuse don’t feel able to talk about it. A big one is the fear of being judged or not believed. By reassuring your friend they’re doing the right thing, you’ll help reduce that fear, and build their confidence to ask for further help from others.

Its not your fault

Be very clear: tell your friend that what’s happening to them is wrong and they’re not to blame. Nothing your friend has done or said makes it okay to be abused. If the abuser drinks or is using drugs, has stress, depression, or anger problems, or had a bad childhood, this does not justify their behavior. Abuse is the responsibility of the abuser.

Why it’s important to say

Often a person who is being abusive blames the victim or makes excuses, so your friend could fear what others think or blame themselves. Their self-esteem is probably quite low as a result of abuse. By telling your friend they’ve done nothing wrong, you’ll help to reduce their anxiety and also build their self-confidence to get further help.

How can I help

Ask your friend what they need. Let them know they can contact the local domestic abuse helpline to talk about their situation and get free, confidential advice. Help them store the number somewhere safe: 0808 800 0340 for women, 0115 960 5556 for men. Do not pressure them to leave. Try and be understanding if they’re not ready and let them know you’ll be there for them, whatever they decide.

Why it’s important to say

Your friend needs to know that help is available, but they might not be ready to take action. They may feel stressed, afraid, and exhausted. They might still love their partner or believe they’ll change. If you pressure your friend to do anything they don’t want to then they’ll only feel worse, and might pull away from all support.

If they can be in control of their own decisions, they’ll be more likely to access help and make changes that last.

Warning signs

 Learn to recognise the signs of domestic abuse

Is it abuse?

Not sure if you’re experiencing domestic abuse?

Read our guide

Help a friend

Learn how to support a friend experience abuse with our award-winning campaign

How to help – what next?

After your conversation, consider doing these things next.

Be safe

It’s the number 1 priority

People who abuse can be dangerous, so think of safety first and don’t put yourself or your friend at risk. Try and talk to them face-to-face and in private. Remember that their social media, phone, and emails might be monitored. Don’t push your friend to do anything they’re unsure of. Don’t ever confront the abuser. If you are in immediate danger, call 999. 

Be kind

Make suggestions, not demands

You could offer to ring the helpline to find out about support, or to go with your friend to talk to a doctor, solicitor or the police. You could offer a place to stay if needed, or keep an emergency bag. Suggest they use your address for messages. Google ‘domestic abuse safety planning’ and offer to make a plan together. 

Make sure these are suggestions, not orders. Your friend might not always listen and they may make decisions that you don’t think are in their best interest. This can be upsetting, but avoid criticising them and keep your door open. 

Be there

Whether they leave, or stay

It’s not your job to convince your friend to leave the relationship. It might seem obvious, but leaving is never as simple as just walking away. It can take months or years, and it’s common for people to leave but then go back several times. Be prepared for this, and don’t give up hope. Your friend is most likely to leave and not return if the decision is truly theirs. In the meantime, keep in touch and be understanding. 

Further information

Supporting a friend through a difficult and emotional time can be challenging. Remember to look after yourself.

If you need advice about how to support someone experiencing domestic abuse, you can always call the free 24-hour local helpline, run by
Juno Women’s Aid

0808 800 0340


The Survivor’s handbook from Women’s Aid also contains practical information about every aspect of seeking support.

If you need further advice about how to support a man experiencing domestic abuse, you can call the free Mens Advice Line (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm), run by Respect 

0808 801 0327


Help for women

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