Has your friend asked you for advice related to any of the issues above? Or have you picked up on something without them telling you?
If you suspect something is not right, acting to solve it is not always easy but it can save lives.
Learn how you can support an abused friend or challenge an abusive friend below.
Remember, if you think someone’s life is in danger you should always call 999.
If you are worried your friend is being abused
It can be worrying when someone you care about is in an unhealthy relationship.
It is important to keep showing support, even if you don’t understand your friend’s choices.
Relationship abuse can destroy someone’s self-confidence and leave them feeling lonely or depressed – a good friend is more important than ever.
Listen to and believe your friend
It can be hard to understand when you’re not in that situation, but remember to listen to and trust what your friend is telling you. Remember, a boy or someone in a same-sex relationship can also be a target of abuse.
Many people who are abused associate it with shame and guilt. The more supported your friend feels, the easier it could be for them to deal with what’s happening. Try not to criticise their behaviour or dismiss what is happening to them.
Break the isolation
Abuse often results in the person being isolated from friends and family, making it more difficult to leave the relationship. Help break the isolation by suggesting you do things together, such as going to the cinema or just taking a walk.
Avoid pressuring your friend
For instance, if your friend decides to stay in the relationship, don’t give up on them. Leaving someone could be a big step, and sometimes dangerous if that person doesn’t have the right support. Remember that isolation can make it even more difficult, so continue being there for your friend – they need it!
Contact a specialised service
It is not unusual for friends of victims of abuse to feel like they are powerless and unable to help, but there are professionals and helplines out there ready to give additional support and advice. You could either try to let your friend know about the options available, or contact them yourself if you feel discouraged or don’t know what to do.
Click here to find a list of organisations that can help someone being abused.
If you are worried your friend might be abusing someone
Suspecting a friend is abusive towards a girlfriend or boyfriend can be conflicting and it can be tempting to just try to stay out of it.
But it is important to remember taking action doesn’t mean you are betraying your friend.
Abuse is not a private matter, and the more people speak out the less acceptable it becomes.
Abusive behaviours can carry a prison sentence and seriously damage your friend’s future.
Challenge their behaviour
Abuse is never OK, no matter the circumstances. Let your friend know that you don’t agree with their behaviour. Excuses are common, but try to avoid playing down the seriousness of the situation.
Help them get support
There are many professionals and helplines that can talk to people who are being abusive. You could either let your friend know about these services, or contact them yourself.
If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your friend, but are worried they may be hurting someone, you can talk in confidence with a professional at one of the organisations listed below.
Click here to find a list of organisations that can help people who are abusive.