Responding to a Situation

What should you say and do?

  • Offer to call YWCA 24-hour Crisis & Support Helpline (1-800-334-4628) together in a safe and confidential place. 
  • Believe your friend. Listen carefully and with empathy. Remain non-judgmental and supportive.
  • Understand that your friend may not want to talk about the situation but reassure them that when they are ready, you are available.
  • Respect the need for confidentiality.
  • Offer supportive statements. Acknowledge your friend's courage in talking about the situation.
  • Let your friend know that they are is not alone. Domestic assault happens to many, many people.
  • Reassure your friend that the abuse is not their fault. Your friend is not to blame.
  • Make use of reflective listening to encourage your friend to talk and to make sure you hear what is being said.
  • Ask direct questions gently. Give your friend ample opportunity to talk. Don't rush into providing solutions.
  • Avoid WHY questions and victim-blaming statements.
  • Discuss options and help your friend evaluate their plans. (Call YWCA 24-hour Crisis and Support Helpline or provide the number for assistance in creating a safety plan.)
  • Provide your friend with information about local resources, including YWCA 24-hour Crisis and Support Helpline, which can make referrals for community-based support groups, confidential shelter and legal advocacy services.
  • Work with your friend where they are at that moment and recognize their need to move at their own pace. Give your friend the time needed to make decisions on their own.
  • Acknowledge the reality of the losses that is being faced.
  • If your friend is not ready to make major changes in life, do not take away your support.
  • If your friend remains in the relationship, continue to be a friend while, at the same time communicating that they do not deserve to be in a violent situation.
  • If your friend is planning to leave, encourage them to call YWCA 24-hour Crisis and Support Helpline to safety plan and understand options.
  • Let your friend know you can help locate and understand materials about domestic violence. Offer to keep a file of these materials in a safe place in your home for your friend.
  • Keep YWCA safety cards on hand.


What should you avoid saying and doing?

  • Do not tell your friend what to do, when to leave or not to leave.
  • Do not give advice. 
  • Do not tell your friend to go back and try a little harder to make the relationship work. 
  • Do not try to rescue your friend or make decisions.
  • Do not offer to try to talk to the partner or mediate to straighten things out.
  • Do not tell your friend to stay because of children, religious or cultural reasons.


Take care of yourself.

  • Be aware of your personal safety and do not do anything that puts you or your friend at more risk.
  • There is a risk that your relationship with the victim/survivor could become so dependent that you feel overwhelmed.
  • Be ready to refer your friend to YWCA 24-hour Crisis and Support Helpline to provide additional support and counseling.
  • Call YWCA 24-hour Crisis & Support Helpline yourself to discuss what you are experiencing, as a family member or friend of a DV survivor.
  • Don’t ever intervene physically; don’t ever threaten or confront the abuser.
  • Don’t try to save your friend by showing up unexpectedly. 

If the abuser makes threats against you, contact law enforcement and/or the YWCA 24-hour Crisis & Support Helpline to help understand your options, such as a protective order and to safety plan for yourself and your family. Always be prepared to enlist help and support from experts, including the YWCA 24-hour Crisis & Support Helpline and law enforcement.