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How to help a friend experiencing abuse

If someone opens up and tells you that they are experiencing abuse, here are some tips on how to support them.

Believe them

If someone has taken the difficult step of telling you their experience of domestic violence or abuse, it is important you respond in a supportive and appropriate way as it will have taken a lot for them to talk to you. People are much more likely to cover up or downplay the abuse, rather than to make it up or exaggerate.


  • Listen without judging the person, and make sure they understand it’s not their fault.
  • Don’t keep trying to work out the ‘reasons’ for the abuse. Concentrate on supporting the person who is being abused.
  • Don’t give advice, or tell them what you would do. This will only reduce the person’s confidence to make their own decisions. Listen to them and give them information, not advice.

Take the abuse seriously

It is damaging both physically and emotionally, let them know they have been brave in being  able to talk about the abuse, and in being able to keep going despite the abuse.

Be supportive

  • Be encouraging, open and honest.
  • Don’t blame them for the abuse or ask questions like ‘what did you do for them to treat you like that?’ or ‘why do you put up with it?’, or ‘how can you still be in love with them?’ These questions suggest that it is somehow their fault.

Respect their decisions

  • Respect their right to make their own decisions, even if you don’t agree with them. Respect their cultural or religious values and beliefs.
  • Don’t be critical if they say they still love their partner, or if they leave but then return to the relationship. Leaving an abusive partner takes time, and your support is really important.

Be aware

  • Don’t underestimate the danger they may be in, ask if they need help from a support service and discuss their options, offer to go with the person if they want extra support.
  • Don’t pressure them to leave or try to make decisions on the person’s behalf. Focus on listening and supporting them to make their own decisions. They know their own situation best.

Reach out

  • Keep in touch with the person to see how they are going, having an opportunity to talk regularly to a supportive friend or relative can be very important.
  • Don’t give up on them because they stay in or return to the relationship. It can take many attempts to leave.


Nintirri’s Family and Domestic Violence (FDV) Counsellor is there to help anyone with enquiries or assistance (even if they are not the person experiencing the violence.

Contact Fay on 0400 206 079 or email her

If you or someone you know are in immediate danger call the Police

  • Tom Price            9188 0222
  • Paraburdoo         91598600
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