How to Help

Helping a Victim

The best thing you can do for a victim is to link her or him with a domestic violence agency, such as Hope’s Door. If you or a friend or family member needs help, you can contact:

The Hope’s Door Hotline at


The National Domestic Violence Hotline:


The Wrong Question to Ask

Why doesn’t she just leave?


The Right Question to Ask

Why doesn’t he stop?


Barriers to Leaving and Safety

Understand the dynamics of abuse and avoid victim-blaming statements, such as:

  • “Why don’t you just leave?”
  • “If you’re staying, it must not really be that bad.”
  • “What did you do to provoke the situation?”

There are many reasons why someone might stay in the relationship. For example:

  • Fear
  • Economic dependence
  • Concerns about children
  • Confusion
  • Cultural and religious constraints
  • Gender roles
  • Fear of police, courts, criminal justice system
  • Guilt, embarrassment, shame
  • Isolation
  • Peer pressure
  • Self-doubt
  • Love
    • She wants him to change.
    • She thinks she can change him.
    • She doesn’t want the relationship to end.
    • She wants the abuse to end.

Separation Violence

Asking “why doesn’t she just leave?” implies that the abuse is the victim’s problem and that the victim needs to solve it. It puts the blame on her shoulders and not where it should be – on the abuser.   This question also assumes that leaving will end the violence. Victims need to be aware that the risk of serious or lethal violence increases when leaving the relationship.
“Of 57 domestic homicides in New York State between 1990 and 1997, 75% of the victims were women who ended the relationship or stated an intention to do so.” (New York State Commission on Domestic Violence Fatalities, 1997)   We encourage victims to call a domestic violence hotline to discuss their options or to have additional protections before proceeding. Call Hope’s Door at 888.438.8700.

Other Tips

  • Listen
  • Don’t judge
  • Don’t blame the victim
  • Be supportive even if they stay
  • Encourage them to seek help
  • Don’t gossip
  • Help with safety planning
  • Do NOT confront the abuser