Do you have a friend or family member who was in an abusive situation, but you don’t know what’s best to say as you offer support?

Some thoughts are on the tip of our tongues, but experts in this Health & Fitness CheatSheet story strongly suggest avoiding these three comments or questions if you really want to help. (insert this link at the reference to the story)

Since we know you want to help, here are the unhelpful comments – AND a better way to say it.

1) Why did you wait so long to leave?

For many outside of the situation, it’s hard to understand why someone would stay in an abusive relationship. The National Domestic Violence Hotline explains that some people who are abused don’t understand how a healthy relationship is supposed to function, or worry that their safety could be threatened if they leave.

A better way to say it:

I’m glad you’re safe now that you’re out of that situation.

2) There are two sides to every story

Survivors often fear people won’t believe them when they finally come out with the truth about their abusive situation.

Suggesting your friend may not being telling the truth or they could have caused the violence can be harmful to their recovery. Many already blame themselves for the situation, so you don’t need to make that train of thought worse.

A better way to say it:

You didn’t deserve what happened to you. I’m sorry this is happening to you. I know it’s complicated. It’s not your fault. This doesn’t change how I feel about you.

3) It’s time to get over it and move on

Those in domestic violence relationships often deal with trauma and PTSD long after the actual situation and the abusive relationship is over.

If you make them feel guilty by saying “just get over it,” it discounts the time and space your friend may need to get through the grieving process. Pushing them to move on too soon can also cause them to pull away. You want them to feel safe talking to you.

A better way to say it:

Are you open to asking for professional help?

If you or someone you know is in an abusive situation, call One Place Family Justice Center at 205-453-7261 or visit the website at

All services are free and confidential.