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For Domestic Violence Survivors and their Family, Friends and Co-workers

How to Help

Survivors of domestic violence usually talk to a friend or family member before they access services. If you are a family member or friend of someone experiencing domestic abuse, the following points are important to remember.

  • Listen, without judgment. You do not need to offer advice or solve the problem. Listening will give the survivor an opportunity to talk openly and honestly about what s/he is experiencing. Do not criticize the abusive partner. The victim may feel compelled now or later to defend him or her.
  • Believe the survivor. Affirm her/his experience. Expressing disbelief about how a nice person could be abusive may result in the survivors self-blame.
  • Assure survivors that the abuse is not their fault. Abusive behavior is a choice.
  • Respect the privacy of a friend or family member. Be respectful of safety concerns the survivor might express, and understand that the survivor has the right to make her/his own decisions.
  • Let your friend or family member know that laws and services exist to protect and to help her/him. Encourage the person to call the Washington State Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-562-6025, for more information and for resources that are conveniently located and culturally appropriate.
  • If you suspect that a co-worker is experiencing domestic violence, express your concern and offer the Domestic Violence Hotline number. Be respectful of the individuals privacy. Listen, without judging, if your co-worker discloses domestic abuse to you. Unlike child abuse, there are no laws requiring that such disclosures be reported to police. Let your co-worker know that s/he is not to blame for the abuse, and encourage your co-worker to seek assistance appropriate to the individuals circumstances.


For more information, call the Seattle Human Services Departments Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention program at 206-386-1001.

For more information about our partners and other programs and services, visit:

Seattle Human Services Department
Street address: 700 5th Avenue, Suite 5800, Seattle, WA 98104
Mailing address: PO Box 34215, Seattle, WA 98124-4215

Phone: 206-386-1001
Fax: 206-233-5119
TTY/TTD: 206-233-2778

Accommodations for people with disabilities provided upon request.