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How To Help a Friend

It takes tremendous courage for a survivor to disclose violence to a friend or to seek help.

How you react to a friend’s disclosure of violence can save their life because it affects their likelihood of seeking out further supports. It is critical to not take her power away; trying to make decisions on her behalf may make her situation even more dangerous.

Believe them. Validate and empathize with their feelings.
Even if you haven’t seen it. Even if you know or care about the person harming your friend.

You can call a shelter for resources on behalf of someone else.

Find a Shelter


Myths About Domestic Violence

“Only certain people get involved in abusive relationships.”

What the research shows:

  • No race, culture or class is immune to domestic violence (Campbell et al., 2009; Erez et al. 2009; Grossman & Lundy, 2007)

“Women who are not independent are more likely to end up with abusers.”

What the research shows:

  • 51.8% of femicide victims and 42.9% of attempted femicide victims were employed full time (Campbell et al. 2009)
  • Women who leave their partners are in more danger than when they are in the abusive relationship; leaving also means poverty, temporary housing and isolation from friends and family (Murray, 2008)

“It takes two to tango – abuse is usually caused by both people.”

  • Sayings like this make sense in relationships where both partners have equal power. They do not apply in relationships where one partner uses coercion and fear to take away their partner’s rights.

Shelters near you can help.

Find a shelter or call our confidential and toll-free line at 1-866-331-3933 to speak with someone at a shelter near you. If you suspect a child is at risk, you must report it:  1-800-387-5437 (Kids). Call 911 if you are in immediate danger.

Find a Shelter

Here are ways that you can help support ACWS:

  • Volunteering in a shelter kitchen or child-care program. 
  • Donating gift cards or gently-used goods. Contact a local shelter to find out what they need.
  • Making ACWS or a member shelter part of your planned giving. 
  • Booking an ACWS Leading Change workshop or training session for your community or workplace.
  • Filling a role on the shelter board.
  • Attending shelter fundraising events.
  • Speaking or writing to your MLA or MP about increasing support to shelters.
  • Book an ACWS Leading Change workshop or training session for your staff or community.