Support Others

How to Support Victims & Survivors of Abuse

Discussing relationship abuse with someone actively experiencing an abusive situation is never easy. While every situation is unique, there are several basic ways to facilitate affirming conversations that meet survivors halfway. 

Watching someone experience abuse is challenging, especially if that person is someone you know and love. Abuse is about power and control, meaning there may be a clear imbalance in the relationship where one partner has or ends up with more power and control over the other.​

Conversations with survivors about their situation can be problematic: they may not want to discuss the abuse they’re experiencing for many reasons, including fear, shame, or even concern for their partner who has abusive behavior.

If you’ve noticed warning signs of abuse affecting someone in your life, your instinct may be to intervene or even “save them” from the relationship, but it’s never that simple.​

Knowing how to have conversations that empower survivors to make their own decisions is one of the most important ways to help someone in an abusive relationship reach a safer place.

Being here is a significant first step.

Our JLU staff is here to support you and others. Join our support group for discussions and healing.

At JLU, we understand the impacts certain cultures have on issues like DV. Many people find it challenging to share their trauma out of fear of being tagged or shamed.​

The JLU team understands and has provisions to cater to victims and perpetrators by creating an anonymous support group. Expert counselors and social workers manage this group, and all discussions are private.​

To join the JLU support group, send an email to You will be added to participate in the educational and healing process. JLU is here to help you recover and re-live your purpose in life.

  Supporting others in your life

  1. Acknowledge that they’re in a difficult and scary situation. Let them know that the abuse is not their fault. Reassure them that they’re not alone and that there are help and support available, including from yourself.

  2. Be supportive and listen. It will be difficult for them to talk about the abuse. Telling survivors what they can and cannot do will only serve to isolate and disempower them further. Your first priority should always be to support them with what they need to make their own decisions.

  3. Be non-judgmental. Respect the decisions that a survivor makes. There are many reasons why they might stay in an abusive situation. They might leave and return to the relationship many times. Remember not to criticize their decisions or guilt them — they’ll need your support even more during those moments. Keep in mind that experiencing shame and guilt from friends and family may not only widen the gap between their support systems but also further expand the isolation tactic their partner may already perpetuate in the relationship.

  4. Remember that you cannot “rescue them.” It’s difficult to watch someone you care about get hurt, but ultimately they are the only ones with the right to make a decision about what to do. It’s important to support them no matter what they decide, even if you don’t agree. Remember that abuse is about power and control, and making decisions for them can only add to the disempowerment they’re already experiencing from their partners.

  5. Help them develop a safety plan. We’ve put together information on creating a safety plan for any stage of leaving an abusive relationship, whether they’re choosing to leave, preparing to leave, or have already left. Keep in mind that leaving is not always an option for everyone, and a safety plan may mean focusing on how to stay safe while remaining in the relationship.

  6. Encourage them to participate in activities with friends and family. Helping survivors identify and build support networks can help them recognize alternatives to the abusive situations they’re experiencing and build the confidence they need to leave their relationship.

  7. Encourage them to talk to people who can offer further help. Identify a local service provider for counseling or support, or reach out to us to get a referral for a program near them Offer to go with them to any service provider or legal setting for moral support.​

Talking to Your Teen

Talking to teens and young adults about relationship abuse can be especially difficult, especially if that person is a child you care about. Important points to keep in mind when offering support to your teen include:

  1. Accept what they are telling you. Listen and be supportive even when you don’t understand or agree with their decisions. Being judgemental will make them feel worse and less likely to reach out to you for help when they need you.

  2. Allow them to make up their own mind. Leaving an unhealthy or abusive relationship is difficult and may even be dangerous. While you may have more years of experience with relationships than they do, they know the circumstances of their relationship far better than you do. Remember that abuse is about power and control, and making decisions for them can only add to the disempowerment they’re already experiencing from their partners.

  3. Don’t prevent them from seeing their partner. Controlling their actions will make them more likely to keep secrets from you. Avoid taking their decision-making away from them – as this is a tactic they may already be experiencing in their abusive relationship. Remember that forcing this may be something their partner can easily use to manipulate and operate as “proof” that other people are the problem.

  4. Don’t post information about them on social media. Never use social media platforms to reveal your child’s location or where they spend time. A partner abusing them may be able to use your posts to find them. Teach your teen about internet safety.

  5. Don’t give up. Your instinct is probably to immediately remove your child from harm’s way, but abusive situations aren’t that simple. Even though helping them can be frustrating when you don’t understand or agree with their decisions, they need to know that they can trust you and depend on you for support. Make decisions that let them know that you’re there for them.​

  Talking to Your Coworker

Abusive home situations tend to carry over into work settings. Changes in behavior at work, like drops in productivity, excessive lateness or unexplained absences, unexplained injuries or bruising, sensitivity about discussing home life, disruptive phone calls or visits from a partner, or changes in appearance, could indicate something is wrong. Here are some valuable tips when approaching conversations with coworkers:

  1. Follow your instinct if you feel you should talk to them about what might happen. The worst that could happen is that they don’t want to talk; even then, they’ll know that you care enough to raise the issue.

  2. Remember to be non-judgemental any time you bring up the topic of domestic violence with your coworker. They may be embarrassed by the situation, and you might be the first person who has asked them about it. Approach them confidentially and in a time and place away from interruptions.

  3. Consider starting with observations about their recent stress or distraction, and ask if they want to talk about it. Give them space to share what they want but don’t pressure them.

  4. Listen to what they have to say. Your role is not to fix the problem for them; all they may want is someone who will listen. If your coworker does open up to you about the abuse they’re experiencing, consider passing along appropriate information or resources, including how to contact JLU. Identifying local service providers ahead of time can help you provide actionable options for the next steps if they want them.

  5. Ask if they’d like to create a safety plan for their work environment, including what they would like you to do if their partner calls or stops by the office.​


Remember to respect your coworker’s decisions and know that simply showing your support can make a difference. Your coworker may not do what you want or expect them to do, but knowing that they can depend on you as a supportive and trustworthy person in their time of need may empower them to take the next step toward reaching a safer place.

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