If You Are a Third Party to Abuse…

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If you witness abuse or are aware of someone who has been abused, you
may not be sure what you should or shouldn’t do to help. The following
list describes things you can do to help.

  • You can report the abuse to appropriate government organizations.

    • If you are a mandated abuse reporter because of your
      professional role with respect to the abuse victim, you have no choice
      but to report the abuse to the appropriate state agency. It is your
      professional and ethical responsibility to do so and if you do not, you
      may be held liable.
    • If
      you are not a mandated reporter, you can still can choose to do so by
      contacting the police or the relevant government agency. A list of
      protective service agencies by state is provided as an appendix to this
  • Encourage the victim to seek help (e.g., from the police, a lawyer, the courts, an abuse shelter, etc.)

  • You can listen to the victim and be a shoulder
    for them to vent upon. Talk with them and help them understand the
    nature of what abuse is and that it is happening to them. They may be
    in denial and not realize that what they're experiencing is not safe or
    normal or necessary. Having someone to talk to or assist in locating
    resources can be a huge comfort, especially when the person listens and
    does not judge the situation.

  • You can offer support and assistance in
    helping the victim to make a plan for exiting the abuse. Give them
    numbers for local resources like domestic violence shelters. Help them
    to learn how to file a restraining order with the local court.

  • Resist the urge to pass angry judgment, as
    this may turn the victim away from confiding in you. However, do feel
    free to label abuse as abuse, and to encourage the victim to seek out

Additional Resources

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