How to support a friend in an abusive relationship

Seeing someone you care about being abused can be hard to deal with, but it is important to support them through this tough time. You may wonder why someone would stay in an abusive relationship. Well, there can be many reasons for why they remain in such relationships. It might be because the abuser is threatening to hurt them or someone they love if they leave. And sometimes victims of abuse feel ashamed, or believe that they are to blame for the abuse. Whatever the reason, try to support your friend no matter what.

Here are some dos and don'ts when supporting a friend in an abusive relationship.


  • Force them to report the abuser. If they report, this has to be their choice.
  • Judge them if they go back to the abuser. You might not know all their reasons for going back.
  • Confront the abuser. This could put your friend in more danger (and even put you in danger.)


  • Be supportive and listen if they want to talk.
  • Remind them that the abuse isn't their fault.
  • Allow them to decide for themselves what to do about the situation - this will make them feel in control of their lives again.
  • Get advice and help from organisations that deal with abuse, like POWA or the Stop Gender Abuse hotline on 0800 150 150. They will be able to help you manage the situation and support your friend.

Remember that your support is the best and most important thing you can give to your friend. Read more on abuse and where to get help here.

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B-Wise User Anonymous 11 December 2018 15:01

Hey,I have a friend who'arried,her husband always insults her infront of her children and also wants to be sexually intimate with her when children are around,he beats her,call her all sorts of names, doesn't give her money for food,he literally doesn't do anything for her and their can I help her and show her the right direction?

B-Wise Expert Expert 12 December 2018 23:08

Hi Picket, thank you for your question. You seem to be a very caring friend, well done for supporting your friend through such a difficult time. Everyone deserves a friend like you. You can refer your friend to call the Gender-based violence call centre on 0800 428 or *120*7867#. There are people who can support and advice her on what her options are. 

B-Wise User mogauza 4 July 2018 15:12

If its my mother

B-Wise Expert Expert 9 July 2018 12:29

Hi Anonymous. It is really great that you want to help your mother. You can be a source of support to your parent by being there for them. Spend some time with them alone to give them an opportunity to talk safely. You can remind your parent that you are concerned about them and that they don't deserve to be treated badly. If you feel comfortable you can also give your parent a number they can call to get help. There are many organisations that your mom can call to get help such as Stop Gender Violence helpline 24 hrs; 0800 150 150

Gender-based violence call centre:

0800 428 428 (or *120*7867#)

Child Welfare South Africa: 0861 452 4110

Police emergency: 10111

Remember its your parent that needs to take these steps but if its an emergency, please don't hesitate to contact the numbers provided to seek further advice. You can also read our articles from our abuse section for more information,