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Mental Health Center

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Domestic Violence - How to Help

Many victims of domestic violence are willing to talk about their relationship when they are approached in a kind and understanding manner. But don't confront a victim if the person is not ready to talk. Let the person know you are willing to listen whenever he or she wants to talk. Be understanding if the person is unable to leave. He or she often knows the situation best and when it is safest to leave.

Reassure the person that the abuse is not his or her fault and that no one deserves to be abused. If the person has children, gently point out that you are concerned that the violence is affecting them. Many victims do not understand that their children are being harmed until someone else voices the concern.

Remind the victim that domestic violence is against the law and that help is available. You may be able to help a victim understand his or her options. Be willing to assist in any way you can with transportation, money, or child care. Encourage your friend to talk with a health professional.

The most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence can be when the person is leaving an abusive relationship, so any advice about leaving must be knowledgeable and practical. Encourage the victim to get advice from an advocacy agency with experience in the area of domestic violence.

Helping a person contact local domestic violence groups is an important step. If you know someone who is being abused, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233) or see the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence's website at to find the nearest program offering shelter and legal support. There are many programs across the country that provide options for safety, advocacy, support, and needed information and services.

Here are some other ways to help:

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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