Ways to Help a Friend

Violence against women is everyone’s business and pervades all sectors of society. Women stay in abusive and violent relationships because of fear for their safety and the safety of their children should they leave, a lack of emotional and social support, financial fears, a lack of affordable housing, fear of losing their children, and a belief the abuse is their fault.

A woman living with abuse needs support and encouragement in order to make choices that are right for her. If you are supporting an abused woman, remember to keep yourself safe.

Here are some of the ways you can help a friend, neighbour, or family member who you suspect of being abused or who comes to you for help.

  • Talk to her about what you see and assure her that you are concerned.  Tell her you believe her and that it’s not her fault.
  • Listen to her and what she has to say.  Respect her feelings.
  • Encourage her not to confront her partner if she is planning to leave.  Her safety must be protected.
  • Talk to her about what she can do to plan for her and her children’s safety.
  • Offer to provide childcare while she seeks help.
  • Offer your home as a safe haven to her, her children, and pets.  If she accepts your offer, do not let her partner in.
  • Encourage her to pack a small bag with important items and keep it stored at your home in case she needs it.
  • Respect her confidentiality and support her decision.
  • Know that you or she can call the Women & Children’s Shelter (705-728-2544) or one of the other county shelters, the Assaulted Women’s Helpline or, in an emergency, the police.

If she denies the abuse:

  • Assure her she can talk with you any time.
  • Don’t become angry or frustrated with her decisions.  It is important to understand that she may be afraid or not ready to take the next steps.
  • Try to understand why she might be having difficulty getting help.  She may feel ashamed.
  • Offer to go with her if she needs additional information or support.
  • If she has children, let her know gently that you are concerned about her and her children’s safety and emotional well-being.  She may be more willing to recognize her situation if she recognizes her children may also be in danger.

If you would like more information please visit the Neighbours, Friends, and Family website at Neighbours, Friends & Families Campaign.

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