Ways to Help Someone Being Abused
Woman consoling distressed friend

Be a good listener when helping a friend who's a victim of abuse. Resist the urge to provide, what you think are, all the right answers.

David De Lossy/Photodisc/Thinkstock

There are times when a friendship is put to the ultimate test. It's one thing to claim someone is your BFF; it's another to step up. Same goes with brothers, sisters, colleagues and classmates. Words mean little when a life -- or at least, quality of life -- is on the line. If you suspect your friend, relative, co-worker or fellow student is being abused, you're not powerless. You need to realize that there are things you can do to help.

But before you dive in, understand that it won't be easy and it's not about you. You need to be strong, stable and caring. What you're offering -- true compassion and concern -- must be without conditions [source: HelpGuide.] Victims of abuse already have plenty of conditions placed upon them. Seek to be what the abuser is not.

In addition, seek to be what the victim is not. A victim of abuse, for example, is often unaware she is being abused. She may think she caused the problems in the relationship. Many times abuse victims minimize what they're being put through, whether they realize it or not. It's a very real possibility that you'll be the first person to recognize that abuse is going on [source: Stanford]. You have to be aware, understand the signs and avoid falling into the same trap of saying, "Maybe I'm making too much of this," or, "it's none of my business."

No question, you can help -- but you can also do the victim a disservice. Don't tell an abuse victim to give it another try or do better. Do not offer to be the middleman between the victim and abuser. Suggesting couple's counseling isn't appropriate in an abusive situation, either [source: CRAA].

So let's consider your options in this challenging situation.