How to Support Someone

In order to be able to connect, it’s important to create an atmosphere for that person to open up. Stay connected with them, even if your first attempt to talk is not successful. 

Provide openings on multiple occasions. Often, people will not disclose their experiences until they are provided many openings. When someone discloses that they have been experiencing violence and abuse, or they are concerned about their own behaviour, give them a safe, judgement-free space to share what’s happening. 

One option is, to consider using current events to start a conversation. For instance, “I have been seeing in the media that domestic violence and abuse rates are way up. I hope that if I knew anyone in this situation they would reach out to me so I could support them. I was surprised to see how often this is happening. It’s more common than I thought, and no one should go through that alone.”

Do’s and Don’ts

We hope these are helpful. For further questions, please contact us.


  • Believe the victim. 
  • Be compassionate and listen. Show empathy, not pity. “I’m sorry this is happening to you.”
  • Let them lead the discussion.
  • Notice and validate the things they have experienced.
  • Be clear that the person who behaved abusively is  the person responsible. “You don’t deserve this, it’s not your fault.”
  • Notice the ways the victim has resisted the violence and focus on the things they have been doing to keep themselves safe. “It sounds like you are doing the best you can in a  difficult situation.”
  •  Be curious about anything you hear that blames the victim, and give the victim the space to reflect on this. 
  • If the victim has her own regrets about her actions, give the person space to talk about this as well.
  • Allow them to make their own decisions. Offer support, not advice. “I’m here to listen and will support your decisions.”  “What do you need right now?”  “How can I help?”
  • Always think safety: their safety and your safety.


  • Express disbelief or imply the victim is exaggerating or not telling the truth.
  • Judge or blame them for their situation or their choices. “It can’t be that bad.” “Really? They seem so nice.” “If that’s true, why are you still with them?”
  • Tell them what you believe they should do. “You need to leave them.” “You have to call the police.”  “You need marriage counselling.”
  • Push for more detail or information than they provide. You don’t need to investigate or know all the  details to be supportive.

There are many myths about abuse.

The most important thing is to really listen to the person you are with. Learn about some of the myths about abuse.

The person can ask questions or find help here.

If the person is willing, please connect them with us.

Connect Domestic Violence and Abuse Helpline: 

403.234.7233 (SAFE)

Toll-free: 1.866.606.SAFE (7233) 


Men& Line: 1-833-327-MENS or 1-833-327-6367

Learn More

Myths About Abuse

Forms of Abuse

How People Resist Abuse

Am I Abusive?

Children and Abuse

Escape and Safety planning

Help Stop Abuse

How to Support Someone