If you or someone you know is in danger, escape this page and dial 911.
or Text SAFE BERKS to 20121
We can help you or someone you know obtain:
- Emergency shelter from an abusive situation
- Counseling, one-on-one for both adults and children
- Information and legal support
- More information about domestic and sexual violence
- Safety planning
The Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, offers the following advice on how to help someone you know who may be suffering from, or at risk of domestic violence or sexual assault. More info from the Office on Women’s Health, is available on their website.
Here are some ways to help a friend who is being abused:
- Set up a time to talk. Try to make sure you have privacy and won’t be distracted or interrupted.
- Let your friend know you’re concerned about her or his safety. Be honest. Tell him or her about times when you were worried. Help your friend see that what she or he is going through is not right. Let her or him know you want to help.
- Be supportive. Listen to your friend. Keep in mind that it may be very hard for most people to talk about abuse. Tell your friend that they are not alone, and that people want to help.
- Offer specific help. You might say you are willing to just listen, to help with childcare, or to provide transportation, for example.
- Don’t place shame, blame, or guilt on your friend. Don’t say, “You just need to leave.” Instead, say something like, “I get scared thinking about what might happen to you.” Tell her you understand that her situation is very difficult.
- Help your friend create a safety plan. Safety Planning includes picking a place to go and packing important items.
- Encourage your friend to talk to someone who can help. Offer to help her find a local domestic violence agency, such as Safe Berks. Offer to go with her or him to the agency, the police, or court.
- If your friend decides to stay, continue to be supportive. Your friend may decide to stay in the relationship, or she or he may leave and then go back many times. It may be hard for you to understand, but people stay in abusive relationships for many reasons. Be supportive, no matter what your friend decides to do.
- Encourage your friend to do things outside of the relationship. It’s important for her to see friends and family.
- If your friend decides to leave, continue to offer support. Even though the relationship was abusive, she or he may feel sad and lonely once it is over. Your friend also may need help getting services from agencies or community groups.
- Keep in mind that you can’t “rescue” your friend. She or he has to be the one to decide it’s time to get help. Support your friend no matter what decision they make.
More information on How to Help a Friend who is being Abused
Explore other publications and websites:
- Help a Loved One (Copyright © Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) – This publication has tips on how to help someone who was sexually assaulted or abused.
- How Can I Help a Friend or Family Member Who is Being Abused? (Copyright © National Domestic Violence Hotline) – This publication gives advice to friends and family of abuse survivors on how to deal with the issue of domestic violence. Useful suggestions on how to approach the loved one and additional resources for help are provided.
- Tips for Helping a Friend (Copyright © Women’s Justice Center) – This website gives tips on how to help a friend who is in an abusive relationship, has survived sexual assault, or is trying to get help from the criminal justice system.