9 Ways to Help a Victim of Domestic Violence (2023)

If you know or suspect that someone is a victim ofdomestic violence, you may have no idea how best to help. Don't let the fear of saying the wrong thing keep you from speaking up. Waiting for the perfect words can keep you from seizing a life-changing opportunity.

The world for many victims of domestic violence can be lonely, isolated and full of fear. Sometimes reaching out to them and letting them know you are there for them can be a huge relief.

If you or a family member has been a victim of domestic violence, contact theNational Domestic Violence Hotlineem1-800-799-7233for confidential support from trained lawyers.

For more mental health resources, visit ourNational Database of Support Lines.

How to help a victim of domestic violence

Use the following nine tips to support someone in this vulnerable situation.

Why does domestic violence happen?

make time for her

If you decide to approach a victim of abuse, do so during a quiet moment. Getting involved when tempers are running high could put you in danger. Also, allow plenty of time in case the victim decides to open up. If the person decides to open up years of pent-up anxiety and frustration, you don't want to end the conversation because you have another commitment.

start a conversation

You can approach the issue of domestic violence by saying, "I'm worried about you because..." or "I'm worried about your safety..." or "I've noticed some changes that I'm worried about...".

(Video) Ten ways you can help a victim of domestic violence

You may have seen the person wear clothes to cover up the bruises, or you may have noticed that they suddenly become quiet and withdrawn. both can besigns of abuse.

Let the person know that you will handle any information disclosed with discretion. Don't try to force the person to open up; Let the conversation flow at a comfortable pace.

listen without judging

When the person decides to speak,listen to the storywithout judging, giving advice or suggesting solutions. If you actively listen, the person is likely to tell you exactly what they need. Just give the person every opportunity to speak.

You can ask clarifying questions, but mostly let the person express their feelings and fears. You may be the first person the victim confided in.

Learn the warning signs

Many people try to cover up abuse for a variety of reasons, and knowing the warning signs of domestic violence can help:

Physical signs:

  • black eyes
  • chapped lips
  • Red or purple spots on the neck.
  • crooked wrists
  • bruises on arms

emotional signs:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Overly apologetic or polite
  • fearful
  • Changes in sleeping or eating patterns.
  • anxious or nervous
  • substance abuse
  • depression symptoms
  • Loss of interest in activities and hobbies you previously enjoyed
  • talking about suicide

Behavioral signs:

  • withdraw or distance
  • Cancellation of appointments or last minute meetings
  • often late
  • Excessive privacy regarding your personal life
  • Isolate yourself from friends and family

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact yourNational Suicide Prevention Hotlineem988for the support and assistance of a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

(Video) Why domestic violence victims don't leave | Leslie Morgan Steiner

Believing Victims of Domestic Violence

Why domestic violence ismore about control than angeroften the victim is the only one who sees the dark side of the perpetrator. Others are often surprised to learn that someone they know can be violent.

As a result, victims often feel that if they told others about the violence, no one would believe them. Believe the victim's story and tell it. For a victim, there can be a sense of hope and relief to finally have someone who knows the truth about their struggle.

Offer the victim these guarantees:

  • I believe in you
  • It's not my fault
  • You do not deserve it.

How domestic violence varies by ethnicity

Validate the victim's feelings

It is not uncommon for victims to express conflicting feelings about their partner and their situation. These feelings can range from:

  • guilt and anger
  • hope and despair
  • love and fear

If you're willing to help, it's important to validate her feelings by telling her that it's okay to have these conflicting thoughts. But it is also important that you recognize that violence is not okay and that living in fear of being physically attacked is not normal.

Some victims may not realize that their situation is abnormal because they have no other role models and have become accustomed to the cycle of violence. Tell the victim that violence and abuse are not part of a healthy relationship. Acknowledge without judgment that their situation is dangerous and that you are concerned for their safety.

Reasons why victims stay

It can be hard to understand why someone you apparently care about would choose to stay in an abusive or unhealthy relationship. Here are some reasons why breaking up isn't easy.

  • Fear of damage if they leave.
  • They still love their partner and believe that will change.
  • Your partner promised to change
  • A strong belief that marriage is "for better or for worse".
  • They think the abuse is their fault.
  • stay for the kids
  • Lack of self-confidence
  • Fear of isolation or loneliness.
  • Pressure from family, community or church
  • Lack of means (work, money, transport) to survive alone
(Video) How to Help a Domestic Violence Victim

Offer targeted support to your loved one

Help the victim find support and resources. Look for emergency shelters, social services, lawyers, counselors or support group phone numbers. If available, offer pamphlets or pamphlets about domestic violence.

You should also help them obtain information about laws relating to protective orders/restraining orders and child custody information. You can search state by state legal informationWomensLaw.org.

If the victim asks you to do something specific and you're willing to do it, don't hesitate to help.

If you can't, try to find other ways to fill the need. Identify their strengths and assets and help them develop and expand on them so they find the motivation to help themselves.

It's important to show them that you are always there for them. Let them know the best way to contact you if they need help. If possible, offer to go to the police, court or a lawyer for moral support.

Let the person know that they are not alone and that help is available. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline1-800-799-7233for immediate help and referral to nearby counseling services or support groups.

Help create a safety plan

Help the victim create a safety device that he can use if the violence starts again or if he decides to leave the situation. Just the practice of making a plan can help them visualize what steps are needed and prepare them psychologically.

As victims who leave their abusive partners are at greater risk of being killed by their abuser than those who remain, it is extremely important that the victim has a personalized safety plan in place before a crisis occurs or before they decide to leave.

(Video) The 5 Signs Someone Has Suffered Narcissistic Abuse

Help the victim think through each step of the security plan, assessing the risks and benefits of each option and ways to mitigate the risk.

Be sure to include the following in your security plan:

  • A safe place to go in an emergency or when they decide to leave the house
  • A ready made excuse to leave if they feel threatened
  • A code word to alert family or friends that help is needed
  • An “escape bag” containing money, important documents (birth certificates, social security cards, etc.), keys, toiletries and a change of clothes, easily accessible in a crisis situation
  • A list of emergency contacts, including trusted family members or friends, local emergency shelters, and a domestic violence hotline.

How dangerous is the situation?Take the hazard assessment testdiscover.

what not to do

While there is no right or wrong way to help a victim of domestic violence, you should avoid anything that makes the situation worse. Here are some "don'ts" experts say you should avoid:


  • Hit the aggressor. Focus on the behavior, not the personality.
  • Blame the victim. That's what the perpetrator does.
  • Underestimate the potential danger to the victim and yourself.
  • Promise any help you cannot deliver.
  • Provide conditional support.
  • Do anything that might provoke the bully.
  • pressure on the victim.
  • Abandonment. If you don't want to open up at first, be patient.
  • Do anything to make it harder for the victim.

When to Call the Police About Domestic Violence

If you learn that violence is actively taking place, call 9-1-1 immediately. If you hear or see physical abuse, call the police. The police are the most effective means of eliminating the imminent threat to the victim and their children.

There are no situations in which children should be exposed to a situation of violence. Do whatever it takes to ensure your safety, even if it means going against the victim's or offender's wishes.

In situations of active violence, calling youth welfare services is not the problem, but part of the solution.

(Video) 8 Signs You Are Dealing with Narcissistic Abuse

A Word from Verywell

While your natural impulse is to "save" someone you care about from domestic violence, the abused person must make the final decision about whether (and when) to seek help. By keeping this in mind, you can ensure that whatever you decide, you will support them and continue to provide a safe and loving friendship.


What is the best way to help people who are victims of violence? ›

Helping Domestic Violence Victims
  1. Approach the person at a time and place that is safe and confidential.
  2. Start by expressing concern, such as, I am worried about your safety, I am concerned someone is hurting you.
  3. Take the time to listen and believe what they say.

How do you help someone in a domestic situation? ›

It's important for women to know that help is available from people who know and care about the situation.
  1. Approach them respectfully. ...
  2. Listen without judging. ...
  3. Support her. ...
  4. Allow her to make her own decisions. ...
  5. Help her find a domestic violence support service.
Oct 14, 2022

What to do when you are a victim of violence? ›

Special information if you have been a victim of violence or other crimes against your person
  1. Reporting the crime. ...
  2. The police interview. ...
  3. Medical examination. ...
  4. Contact person. ...
  5. Legal advocate. ...
  6. Participation in victim-offender mediation. ...
  7. Other help options. ...
  8. Close surviving relatives of victims of crime.

What are three ways to protect yourself from abuse? ›

Protecting yourself from violence
  • Seek support. In stressful times, you can find peace by talking to people who support you. ...
  • Be kind to yourself. ...
  • Set small goals. ...
  • Consider filing a protective order. ...
  • If the Violence Escalates.

Why is it important to help victims? ›

All victims deserve to feel safe and supported, and when quality care, compassionate responses, and essential services are provided, not only will they recover from their victimization, but they are usually more capable and willing to present strong evidence and testimony in the prosecution of perpetrators, thereby ...

What is something you can do to help someone that may be experiencing intimate partner violence? ›

Below is a list of 5 ways to effectively support a loved one that is experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) relationship:
  • Listen more, Speak less. ...
  • Be Mindful of Your Reactions. ...
  • Do Not Judge Them or Use The phrase, “If I were you…” ...
  • Be Patient. ...
  • Ask Permission to Give Advice and Remind Them They Can Say No.
Oct 31, 2019

How can we support victims of gender based violence? ›

Here are some ways you can support a friend or family member experiencing GBV
  • Start by listening to them patiently without judgment. ...
  • Believe them. ...
  • Validate the survivor's feelings. ...
  • Be patient and keep constant communication. ...
  • Encourage them to build a support network of trusted family and friends.
Dec 8, 2020

How do you respond to abuse in a care home? ›

You can pass on your concerns to the person's GP and social worker. Local authorities have social workers who deal specifically with cases of abuse and neglect. Call the person's local council and ask for the adult safeguarding co-ordinator. You can also speak to the police about the situation.

What do you do in case of abuse? ›

Our first priority is to protect you and any children you have.
Report it
  1. online.
  2. by calling 101 (If you have a hearing or speech impairment, use our textphone service on 18001 101)
  3. in the safety of your local police station (if you require a translator, we can provide someone initially by phone and later in person)

What are the four steps that a person can take to take action against abuse? ›

Five Ways to Take Action Against Abuse
  • Get educated. Abusive relationships are extremely complex, and usually have several forms of abuse happening within them. ...
  • The victim is the expert. ...
  • Have patience. ...
  • Learn about safety planning. ...
  • Practice self-care.
Jun 10, 2016

How do you talk to a victim of emotional abuse? ›

Assure the victim that you believe them and that you take emotional abuse seriously. Do not blame them or make excuses for their partner. Support them to be safe and ask them how you can help. Respect their decisions and support them if they stay.

What are the seven elements of abuse prevention? ›

11 Nursing facilities' policies prohibiting abuse or neglect must address the following seven components: screening, training, prevention, identification, investigation, protection, and reporting/response.

What are 3 protective factors that prevent violence? ›

Peer and Social Protective Factors

Intensive supervision. Clear behavior rules. Firm disciplinary methods.

What are the 7 areas of abuse? ›

What are the ten different types of abuse?
  • Physical abuse.
  • Domestic violence or abuse.
  • Sexual abuse.
  • Psychological or emotional abuse.
  • Financial or material abuse.
  • Modern slavery.
  • Discriminatory abuse.
  • Organisational or institutional abuse.

What are the needs of a victim? ›

Victims are generally in need of support and assistance, and this is often fundamental to their recovery. Victims may need emotional, psychological, financial, legal or practical assistance. The provision of early support can help to prevent bigger and more complex problems that victims may face in the future.

How can victims of crime be better assisted? ›

The approach to services within Victim Empowerment should focus on restorative justice. The perpetrator should be held accountable for his/her actions and where possible should make amends to the victim. This approach is based on an understanding of crime as an act against the victim, family and the community.

Why do victims need protection and support? ›

Assistance and supports provided to victims following an experience of victimization can play an important role in helping to reduce the impact of crime by providing victims with supports to address the trauma they may have experienced as a result of the crime committed against them.

How can you help end the cycle of violence? ›

To break the cycle of violence, children need services that focus on problem-solving and conflict management skills, healthy self-esteem and self-worthiness. Positive peer groups and social support are also needed.

What are the mandatory services for victims survivors? ›

Mandatory services that include:
  • Temporary shelter.
  • Psycho-social services.
  • Recovery/rehabilitation programs.
  • Livelihood assistance.
  • Medical assistance.
  • Counseling.

What are the 3 causes of gender-based violence? ›

What causes gender-based violence?
  • Cultural factors.
  • Legal factors.
  • Economic factors.
  • Political factors.

How to protect potential victims from the curse of gender-based violence? ›

Responses to gender-based violence need to ensure:
  1. A victim-centred approach;
  2. Accessibility for all victims;
  3. Confidentiality and privacy for victims and survivors;
  4. The safety and well-being of victims/survivors (and any accompanying children);
  5. Full accountability for perpetrators;

How do you respond to abuse concerns? ›

Responding to disclosures
  1. show you care, help them open up: Give your full attention to the child or young person and keep your body language open and encouraging. ...
  2. take your time, slow down: Respect pauses and don't interrupt the child – let them go at their own pace.
Sep 24, 2021

Why is it important to respond to abuse? ›

Abuse and neglect could be prevented if concerns are identified and raised as early as possible. It is important that everyone knows what to look for, and who they can go to for advice and support. Changes in someone's physical or emotional state, or injuries that cannot be explained, may be a sign of abuse.

What are the 5 main safeguarding issues? ›

Safeguarding children in education: types and indicators of abuse
  • Physical abuse.
  • Sexual abuse.
  • Emotional abuse.
  • Neglect.
  • Disguised compliance.
  • How SCIE can support you and your setting.

What is the first step you should take if you suspect abuse? ›

Call or text the Childhelp National Abuse Hotline at 800.422. 4453 to be connected with a trained volunteer. Childhelp Hotline crisis counselors can't make the report for you, but they can walk you through the process and let you know what to expect.

What is the first priority around any concern of abuse? ›

The person's wishes

The first priority of an enquiry should be to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the adult at risk. Their wishes are very important.

What are the 5 signs of emotional abuse? ›

5 Signs of Emotional Abuse
  • They are Hyper-Critical or Judgmental Towards You. ...
  • They Ignore Boundaries or Invade Your Privacy. ...
  • They are Possessive and/or Controlling. ...
  • They are Manipulative. ...
  • They Often Dismiss You and Your Feelings.
May 23, 2017

What are the basic principles for dealing with victims? ›

Victims should be treated with compassion and respect for their dignity. They are entitled to access to the mechanisms of justice and to prompt redress, as provided for by national legislation, for the harm that they have suffered.

What are the 6 steps of the cycle of abuse in order )? ›

Six distinct stages make up the cycle of violence: the set-up, the abuse, the abuser's feelings of “guilt” and his fear of reprisal, his rationalization, his shift to non-abusive and charming behavior, and his fantasies and plans for the next time he will abuse.

What are the 3 phases in the domestic violence cycle? ›

There are three phases in the cycle of violence: (1) Tension-Building Phase, (2) Acute or Crisis Phase, and (3) Calm or Honeymoon Phase. Without intervention, the frequency and severity of the abuse tends to increase over time. Over a period of time there may be changes to the cycle.

What do you say to an abuser? ›

Tell them that their behaviour is their responsibility, especially if they try to blame the victim. Remind them that there is hope and they can change. Avoid shaming the abuser or making judgmental comments about them as a person. Tell them the violence needs to stop.

What should you not say to a victim of emotional abuse? ›

3 Things Never to Say to Verbal and Emotional Abuse Survivors
  • "Are you sure you're being abused?" It's a big deal to accuse someone of verbal or emotional abuse and it's not an accusation we make lightly. ...
  • "I don't want to hear about it." ...
  • "You need to move on."
Jun 25, 2018

What does Gaslighting mean? ›

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which the abuser attempts to sow self-doubt and confusion in their victim's mind. Typically, gaslighters are seeking to gain power and control over the other person, by distorting reality and forcing them to question their own judgment and intuition.

What are the 4 main abuse? ›

There are four main categories of child abuse: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. Find out more about each below, as well as the warning signs that a child may be being abused.

What 3 types of abuse should always be reported? ›

Physical, sexual, and emotional abuse are some of the most known types of abuse: Physical abuse is when someone hurts another person's body. It includes hitting, shaking, burning, pinching, biting, choking, throwing, beating, and other actions that cause physical injury, leave marks, or cause pain.

What are the 4 types of protective factors? ›

Protective factor examples

Positive attitudes, values or beliefs. Conflict resolution skills. Good mental, physical, spiritual and emotional health.

Why are the 5 protective factors important? ›

Protective factors help ensure that children and youth function well at home, in school, at work, and in the community. They also can serve as safeguards, helping parents who otherwise might be at risk find resources, support, or coping strategies that allow them to parent effectively—even under stress.

What are examples of good protective factors? ›

Protective factors for children
  • Positive physical development.
  • Academic achievement.
  • High self-esteem.
  • Emotional self-regulation.
  • Coping and problem-solving skills.
  • Engagement and connections in at least two contexts including school, peers, athletics, employment, religion, and culture.
Nov 29, 2021

What are the 13 types of abuse? ›

  • Bullying and cyberbullying. Find out more.
  • Child sexual exploitation. Find out more.
  • Child trafficking. Find out more.
  • Criminal exploitation and gangs. Find out more.
  • Domestic abuse. Find out more.
  • Emotional abuse. Find out more.
  • Female genital mutilation. Find out more.
  • Grooming. Find out more.

What are 5 effects of abuse? ›

developmental delay, eating disorders and physical ailments. permanent physical injuries or death. violent, aggressive or criminal behaviour or other behavioural problems. drug and alcohol abuse and high-risk sexual behaviour.

What are the 5 most common types abuse? ›

5 main types of abuse
  • • Physical. This harm is not accidental. ...
  • • Emotional. This is sometimes called psychological abuse. ...
  • • Neglect. This is the persistent failure to meet a child's basic physical and/or psychological needs. ...
  • • Sexual. The age of consent is 16years old. ...
  • • Bullying. ...
  • Want more?
Jun 13, 2019

What does a domestic situation mean? ›

A domestic situation or atmosphere is one which involves a family and their home.

What is the honeymoon phase in abuse __________? ›

The honeymoon period occurs right after an instance of physical, sexual or emotional abuse. During this time, an abuser will apologize for their behavior while showing sorrow and promising that the abuse will never happen again.

Which of the following is the best course of action to take if you suspect you re being stalked? ›

Trust your instincts.

Victims of stalking often feel pressured by friends or family to downplay the stalker's behavior, but stalking poses a real threat of harm. Your safety is paramount. Call the police if you feel you are in any immediate danger. Explain why the stalker's actions are causing you fear.

In what ways can victims of crime be better assisted and empowered in the criminal justice system? ›

Victims are entitled to access all mechanisms of justice and to prompt redress for the harm and loss suffered. They are also entitled to receive adequate specialized assistance in dealing with emotional trauma and other problems caused by the impact of victimisation.

Does domestic mean fight? ›

domestic noun [C] (CRIME)

a fight or attack that happens in a home between people who know each other: Police officers should never dismiss a violent incident as "a domestic."

What is domestic PTSD? ›

PTSD from domestic violence is a condition in which the trauma of abuse has impacted life to the point where daily functionality is overwhelming. Intrusive thoughts, anxiety, flashbacks and feelings of dread can collectively make life a daily struggle.

What are domestic use examples? ›

More Definitions of Domestic use

Domestic use means any use of water for individual personal needs and for household purposes such as drinking, bathing, heating, cooking, noncommercial gardening, and sanitation.

How do you escape the cycle of abuse? ›

Break free from an abuser by refusing to give him or her the power to affect your view of yourself and your capabilities. End an abusive relationship by focusing on healing yourself first. Finding people who will offer support is a powerful tool to help you break the cycle of abuse.

What is the cycle of an abuser? ›

The cycle of abuse is a four-stage cycle used to describe the way abuse sometimes occurs in relationships. The stages—tension, incident, reconciliation, and calm—repeat themselves over and over again if the abuse follows this pattern.

What are the five cycles of emotional abuse? ›

The Legacy of Emotional Abuse

The five cycles codified—enmeshment, extreme overprotection and overindulgence, complete neglect, rage, and rejection/abandon- ment—were first published in Annals, the journal of the American Psychotherapy Association, in the Fall of 2002.

At what age is the average for most stalkers? ›

What Is Stalking?
  • #2 1 in every 6 women and 1 out of 19 men in the United States have been stalked in their lifetime.
  • #4 66% of female stalking victims were stalked by current or former intimate partners.
  • #6 People aged 18-24 have the highest rate of stalking victimization.

What are characteristics of stalkers? ›

The Profile Of A Stalker

The fantasies can be love oriented or angry and vengeful. Rejected: Many stalkers have a history of failed relationships or have trouble communicating with others. Intelligent: Most stalkers are intelligent and they carefully plan their stalking behavior. Most just lack social skills.

What would be the most beneficial approach to working with victims of crimes? ›

Listen to what they need; provide them with information, support, and resources; and ensure that their victims' rights are enforced. Explain the restitution order, where applicable, and how information related to restitution payments should be communicated. Connect victims to support services, if needed.

What are the rights of victims? ›

The UN Declaration recognised four major components of the rights of victims of crime: (i) access to justice and fair treatment; (ii) restitution (iii) compensation (iv) rehabilitation. assistance throughout the legal process and right to protection of privacy and safety.

What are the 8 principles of Ubuntu? ›

… ubuntu is said to include the following values: communality, respect, dignity, value, acceptance, sharing, co-responsibility, humaneness, social justice, fairness, personhood, morality, group solidarity, compassion, joy, love, fulfilment, conciliation, et cetera.


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