Help a Friend
We all care about our friends. It can be hard to know what to do when we think they are involved with someone who doesn’t treat them well. But there are things you can do to help and provide support.
Remember, you’re not on your own – if you feel overwhelmed or worried your friend may be in danger, you can speak to someone on our free and confidential Instant Messaging Service (click the ‘Talk to the Helpline’ Button below) or call the Women's Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900, open seven days a week.
I’m worried about how my friend’s partner treats them. How will I know if they are experiencing abuse?
Abuse can feel like a big word, but the subtle ways a person mistreats their partner can start out small and get much worse over time. You don’t need to be 100% sure that what they are experiencing is abuse. If it feels wrong it probably is.
Watching out for patterns of behaviour - in your friend or their partner - can help you to identify abuse.
Common Signs of Abuse
Does their partner bombard their phone with messages, DMs and comment on all of their videos and stories?
Is your friend a lot more distant, maybe they haven’t been on a night out in ages, or you haven’t seen them around as much as you used to?
When you do see them are they quieter, tense, or more distracted? Maybe they seem to be watching everything they do or say?
Does your friend seem afraid to talk to certain people or dress a certain way?
Maybe their partner gets overly jealous if someone chats to your friend?
Or their partner flips out over little things?
Maybe their partner demands to look through their phone or knows all their passwords?
Even if you don’t recognise any of these signs but something still feels wrong, your friend might be experiencing abuse.
You can learn more about spotting red flags and the warning signs of abuse here.
I think my friend might be in trouble. How can I bring it up with them?
Reaching out to a friend we are worried about can be difficult, especially if it feels like they’ve been distant recently. There are small things you can do to show you care.
Check in on them
Text them to say hi, ask them if they’re ok and if they would like to hang out. They might feel very isolated so remind them that you are there for them.
Talk to them in person
Tone and body language are so important when speaking to someone about something sensitive or frightening. Avoid having a conversation with them about your concerns over text. It could put them in danger if their partner demands to look through their phone.
Avoid accusations and disapproval
Approach the topic gently, otherwise you run the risk of pushing them away. Remember, your friend will only open up if they know that they can trust you, and building that trust depends on supporting and empowering them to make their own decisions.
Speak to someone they are close to
If you don’t think you are close enough with them to approach the conversation you can speak, in confidence, to someone they trust and are close to, maybe another friend, sister, or family member.
It sounds like my friend might be experiencing abuse. How do I support them?
If a friend or someone close to you opens up about how their partner is treating them and it sounds like abuse, there are ways you can show them you are there for them.
Give them time to talk, and don't push them to go into too much detail if they don’t want to share.
Try to understand and take care not to blame them.
Tell them that they are not alone and that there are many others who are in similar situations.
Acknowledge that it takes strength to talk about what they are going through.
Tell them you believe them and that it’s not their fault.
Tell them what their partner is doing to them is not ok, even if you are unsure if it’s abuse. Remember, if it feels wrong it probably is.
Tell them that no matter what their partner says, no one deserves to be manipulated, threatened, or criticised 24/7. Nothing they can do or say can justify their partner’s behaviour. There are no excuses for treating someone abusively. Tell them that you understand they are in a frightening and very difficult situation.
Encourage them to express their feelings, whatever they are.
Allow them to make their own decisions.
Don't tell them to leave the relationship if they are not ready to do this. This is their decision.
Too Into You Can Help
Tell them about the Too Into You Instant Messaging Service which is available to anyone who feels unsafe or worried at https://www.toointoyou.ie/. Open every morning and evening, seven days a week.
Women's Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline
Tell them about the Women's Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If your friend is male, they can call the National Male Advice line on 1800 816 588 and find support and advice here.
- Add the Women's Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline number 1800 341 900 to your list of contacts in case your friend ever needs it.
Give them phone credit so they can make calls in case of emergency.
Tell them they can contact you if they ever need someone to talk to. Remember, you don’t need to be an expert to be there for them, you just need to listen.
Agree a code word with them which they can use if they’re in danger and need help.
Give them a small amount of money to put away in case they need a taxi or bus in an emergency to leave the house. Or add your card to their taxi app so they can book one in an emergency.
If their partner has hurt them physically they may need medical attention. Offer to go with them to a hospital or to see their GP. Suggest that it might be useful in future to have records of any injuries as abuse frequently escalates over time.
Help them to report the assault to the police if they choose to do so.
Go with them to visit a solicitor if they are ready to take this step.
Plan safe strategies for leaving an abusive relationship. Let them create their own boundaries of what they think is safe and what is not safe; don't urge them to follow any strategies that they express doubt about.
Tell them they can use your address and/or telephone number to leave information and messages, and tell them you will look after an emergency bag for them, if they want this.
Keeping Yourself Safe
Remember to look after yourself while you are supporting someone through such a difficult and emotional time. Make sure that you don’t put yourself into a dangerous situation; for example, do not offer to talk to their partner about your friend or let yourself be seen by their partner as a threat to their relationship, they could isolate your friend from you.
You can speak to someone on our free and confidential Instant Messaging Service (click the Talk to the Helpline button below) or call the Women's Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.