Know Your Power

What Can I Do If I Think Someone I Know Is Being Abusive?

It’s not easy to see a friend or family member act abusively to their boyfriend or girlfriend. You might feel confused, sad, or angry. You may not want to admit that this person that you love could do such a thing. It’s normal to feel that way, but it’s important that you don’t ignore what is going on. You can make a difference.

What to do

  • Talk to your friend or family member about what you’ve seen or heard that concerns you. Keeping quiet about the abuse lets the abuser continue to deny that there is a problem and makes it easier for them to continue abusing their partner.
  • Make sure your friend or family member knows there are consequences for being abusive, including being put in jail or expelled from school.
  • Let your friend or family member know you care about them and that you want to help. Suggest they talk to a professional about what is going on, like a school counselor, teacher, clergy member, or coach.
  • Suggest they call the NYS Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline: 1-800-942-6906 (English) or 1-800-942-6908 (Spanish) to find out what resources are in their community for help.
  • Set a good example by having healthy relationships with the people in your life.

What NOT to do

  • Don’t support the abuse by letting your friend or family member blame his or her partner for the abuse. Being abusive is their choice and nothing their partner does justifies the abuse.
  • Don’t turn against your friend or family member or make them feel like they are a horrible person. It’s important to let your friend or family member know that you support them even though you disagree with their choices and behavior.
  • Don’t assume the problem will just go away. Keep talking to your friend or family member about the abuse and offer to listen and support their efforts to change.

For more on what to do if someone you know is being abusive: