Domestic Violence
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*If you are concerned about the immediate safety of your friend or family member: Call 911

If you suspect a friend or family member is in an abusive relationship, talking with them about it can be hard.  The most important thing you can do is to let them know that they have support and options to leave the relationship.

1.  Remember that you can’t “rescue” your friend from an abusive relationship. Offer support without judgment or criticism.

There are many reasons why a victim may stay in an abusive relationship and many reasons why she may leave and return to the relationship many times.  Do not criticize or make her feel guilty.  She needs you to be helpful, not hurtful.

Powerful Phrases When You Suspect They are Being Abused.

“It’s not your fault he treats you that way.”

“I know this is difficult to discuss, but please know you can talk to me about anything.”

“You are not alone.  I care about you and am here for you, no matter what.”

“I see what is going on with you and _______ and I want to help.”

“I’m worried about your safety and am afraid he’ll really hurt you next time.”

“Promise me that if you need to talk, you’ll come to me.”

2.  Avoid confrontations.

Individuals experiencing abuse often don’t reach out to family and friends. It’s important to recognize if she is ready to talk about her experiences while offering support:

“I’m here to help and am always available, even if you don’t want to talk about it.”

“Remember, you’re not alone – I am here for you when you’re ready to talk about it.”

“You are not responsible for his behavior.”

3.  Don’t try to make any decisions for your friend.

It implies that you think she’s incapable of making good choices for herself and it may deter her from confiding in you in the future. Instead, focus on offering support and encouragement:

“I want to help. What can I do to support you?”

“How can I help protect your safety?”

“No matter what you did, you do not deserve this.”

4.  Encourage her to get help. Suggest ways she can get additional support. Help her look into available resources, such as:

National Domestic Violence Hotline number (800-799-SAFE)
In South Pinellas county: CASA 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline: (727) 895-4912
In North Pinellas county: RCS Hotline (727) 442-4128

“Here is the number to our local domestic violence agency. They can help provide shelter, counseling or support groups. They also offer services to help you understand the legal system, access community resources, relocate or get support for your children.”

“How about we develop a safety plan?”

“If you need to go to the police [or court or a lawyer], I can go with you to offer support.”

*If you are concerned about the immediate safety of your friend or family member: Call 911

*National statistics show that domestic violence primarily impacts women. Feminine pronouns are used in this article when referring to victims of domestic violence and masculine pronouns are used when referring to perpetrators, but we recognize that the issue is not a simple one. Sometimes the perpetrator will be female while the victim will be male. And, domestic violence can happen in same sex relationships as well.


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