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When Someone You Love is Abused

In an abusive relationship, there is often more than one victim. Family and friends of abuse victims often struggle with feelings of sadness, helplessness and even anger.

You may want to rescue the person you love. You may be furious at them for staying in an abusive relationship and not listening to you. You may feel frustrated. You may be confused and hurt.

It’s hard to understand the power that an abuser has, and the strong forces that compel victims to remain in harmful situations.

All of the things you’re feeling are normal.  And difficult as it may be to live in the day to day uncertainty that your life entails right now, there are some things that you can do to help the person you love remain strong, and hopefully find the power to get away from the abuse.

Here are just a few thoughts on loving someone who is abused:

  • You can’t make your loved one leave the relationship. It has to be their choice. What you can do is build up their feelings of self-worth, their inner strength and their sense of self.
  •  If the victim is a child, elderly, or otherwise incapable of protecting themselves, there are laws in place to help them. Check with your police department for more information about how they can help.
  • People in abusive relationships feel as if they have no other choice. It may be because they’re afraid they will be hurt, or that they’ll have no place to go, that no one will believe them, or that no one else will ever be able to love them. What you can do is remind them that you care about them, that what is happening is not their fault, that you can assist them in finding the help that they need when they are ready.
  • People in abusive relationships have a hard time seeing what is going on in a logical way. Abusers often convince their partner that their family members are against them, and that they are the only ones who love them.
  • Your loved one may say terribly hurtful things to you. Don’t take it personally, because it’s not about you. Those words are being said by someone who is in great pain, who is afraid, and who is most likely very confused.
  • One of the best things you can do is remind them that they are loved by you, and that they can come to you without fear of judgement.

The most important thing that you can do when someone you care about is in an abusive relationship is to love them. Love them furiously, love them unconditionally. You may not see it now, but your care does make a difference.



photo credit – shutterstock

When Someone You Love is Abused

Jenise Harmon, MSW, LISW-S

Jenise Harmon, LISW-S, is a psychotherapist with a private practice in Columbus, Ohio. She works with individuals and couples, and specializes in relationship counseling. Stay Connected . Follow her on twitter; and connect with her on Facebook.

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APA Reference
Harmon, J. (2012). When Someone You Love is Abused. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 17, 2018, from


Last updated: 7 Jun 2012
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 Jun 2012
Published on All rights reserved.