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How Do I Help My Friend Who Is Being Abused?

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From a teen in the U.S.: A friend of mine has a son, and we’re both 17, so she lives with her boyfriend and father of the son. She’s been coming to me recently to rant that her boy friend is constantly drunk and threatens to hit her or her dog. He’s never threatened to hit the son before, but if he’s okay with hitting his girlfriend, I don’t think he’s much higher than that.

Today she told me he said he would kill himself if she left him, and said he would kill her dog if she ever cheated on him. She has no family to go to because of personal reasons, and the best idea I could think of is her, her son, and her dog stay at my grandma’s house since they’re out of state for 3 out of 4 weeks a month. I said I would rather tell the counselors if it gets any worse, and she said she would stop talking about it to me because I said that. I’m just conserned for her and her family and want to help, but I don’t know how.

How Do I Help My Friend Who Is Being Abused?

Answered by on -


You are right to be concerned. Your friend and her son are in danger. The so-called boyfriend is often drunk and violent and he emotionally blackmails her by saying he’ll kill himself if she leaves. She is stuck and afraid for herself, her son and her dog. She also doesn’t want to feel responsible for his death. She needs to get out. But she needs to do so safely.

You can’t expect yourself to know what to do. All you can do is love her and point her in the right direction. She needs to be in touch with the National Domestic Violence Hotline. ( Counselors are available for online chat 24/7.  She could also call them: 800-799-7233. They can help your friend sort out what she needs to do and can refer her to local resources.

Do tell her to not use a computer the boyfriend has access to. Men like him often get violent when they find out that their partner is looking for help. Let her use your computer or one at the library.

Has your grandmother agreed to let the family use her house? If not, that’s going to create more trouble for your friend and it will damage your relationship with your grandmother. Be careful about making offers like that unless it is okay with everyone involved.

Your friend is lucky to have you as a friend. Give her the hotline number and just be there for her.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

How Do I Help My Friend Who Is Being Abused?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2019). How Do I Help My Friend Who Is Being Abused?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 9 Dec 2019 (Originally: 10 Dec 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 9 Dec 2019
Published on Psych All rights reserved.