Tips to Help Support Individuals Experiencing Violence

Give clear, supportive, nonjudgmental messages:

  • “I believe you.”
  • “You are not alone.”
  • “You did not cause or deserve the violence.”
  • “Violence is a choice.”
  • “Violence is NEVER okay or justifiable.”
  • “Your safety is always the most important issue.”
  • “You are not to blame for the violent person’s behaviour.”
  • “You cannot change the other person’s behavior; only they can make the choice to stop being violent.”
  • “Apologies and promises will not end the violence.”
  • “Violence is not a loss of control; it is a means of control.”

Help the person make a safety plan:

  • Talk with the person about planning for their safety.
  • Help them identify a wide range of choices for dealing with the violence.
  • Encourage and support them in making their own decisions.
  • Respect the decisions and choices that the person makes.

Find out about the resources in your community:

  • Look in the front pages of your local telephone book for emergency numbers for police, crisis or distress lines, shelters.
  • Prepare a list of names and numbers of the emergency resources in your community so you can give it to a person if you think they are experiencing violence.
  • Check Where to Get Help for a complete listing of helpful resources by region.

Just as there are many ways to help support a victim of violence, there are also things that you should NOT say or do as they could increase risk to the victim’s safety, or be perceived as hurtful, blaming the victim, or minimizing the violence that has occurred.


  • …tell the person what to do. For example, when to leave or when not to leave.
  • …tell the person to go back to the situation or relationship if they have chosen to leave.
  • …tell the person to try a little harder or ignore the violence.
  • …tell the person to go to couples counselling with a violent partner to “work things out.”
  • …try to rescue the person by looking for quick or easy solutions.
  • …suggest you try to talk to the violent person to straighten things out.
  • …tell the person they should put up with the violence for the sake of family members or other people.
  • …tell the violent person what the victim has disclosed to you.