Everyone deserves a healthy relationship.
Do you know someone who is being hurt? Or someone who is causing harm? Are you worried about what might be happening in a loved one’s relationship? You are not alone—we are here to help!
This guide will help you support someone who is struggling in their relationship—and to take care of yourself while you’re doing it. People are more likely to turn to their community (friends, family, YOU) than they are to professionals.
Survivors tell us that what matters most is having someone in their life who is there for them, without judgment, to bounce ideas off, get support, and lean on when things are tough. You can be that person. These tips and tools will help you get started.
Abuse is a pattern of behavior that one person uses to gain power and control over the other.
These behaviors can include:
The fundamental harm of abuse is a loss of autonomy. Autonomy means independence and freedom from external control. Everyone should be free to make their own choices in relationships. As friends and family who want to help, we can restore those choices that have been restricted or taken away by abuse.
In some ways, it doesn’t matter if it’s abuse or not—if someone is being hurt or controlled, they deserve better. We want everyone to be in a healthy relationship, and people may need support to get there. The strategies in this guide can help in either case.
But it is helpful to know if it is abusive for a couple of reasons:
People who are abusive to their partners believe that:
They also tend to manipulate others to further their control by:
We know this is complicated. You can talk with an advocate anytime (you don’t have to be the one in crisis) to sort out how to help someone who is in an abusive relationship. You can call, chat, or text the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or reach out to your local domestic violence or sexual assault program to get support.
These three strategies show your willingness to show up and support someone.You don’t need to be an expert or have all the answers. Just being there and available is what people have told us helps most.
Much of this information was taken from the Washington State Coalition Against Family Violence.