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Help Someone in an Unhealthy Relationship: Quick tips

Quick Tips

Help Someone in an Unhealthy Relationship: Quick tips 

It can be hard to know what to do when someone you care about is in a controlling or violent relationship. These tips can help.

Watch for signs of abuse.

Make a list of anything you see that doesn’t seem right. For example, watch for signs of:

  • Controlling behavior, like if your loved one’s partner demands all of his time
  • Physical abuse, like bruises or cuts
  • Emotional abuse, like put-downs or name-calling

Find out about local resources.

Before you start a conversation with your friend or family member, call 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233) to get the address and phone number of the nearest domestic violence agency.

This way, you’ll be ready to share the information if the person is ready for it. You may even want to offer to call or visit the agency together.

Set up a time to talk.

Make sure you have a private time and place for the conversation.

Be specific about why you are worried.

Does your friend or loved one:

  • Spend less time with friends or doing things he used to enjoy?
  • Make excuses for his partner’s behavior?
  • Have unexplained cuts or bruises?

Does your friend or loved one’s partner:

  • Yell at or make fun of her?
  • Try to control her by making all of the decisions?
  • Check up on her when she’s at work or school?
  • Force her to do sexual things she doesn’t want to do?
  • Threaten to hurt himself if his partner ever breaks up with him?

Try to help her see that the way she’s being treated isn’t right. The more specific you can be, the better.

Plan for safety.

People whose partners are controlling or violent may be in danger when they leave the relationship. If your friend or loved one is ready to leave an abusive partner, help him make a plan for getting out of the relationship as safely as possible. A domestic violence counselor can help with making a safety plan.

Be patient and keep the door open.

You can do your best to share your concerns. But your friend or loved one will decide what’s right for her, even if it doesn’t make sense to you. It can take time for someone to be ready to talk. Let her know that you are ready to talk again whenever she is.

Get help for yourself.

Watching someone you care about stay in an unhealthy relationship is hard. You can get support, too. Call 1‑800‑799‑SAFE (1-800-799-7233).

For more information about helping someone in an unhealthy relationship, visit:

Content last updated on: May 31, 2012 Content Review by