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Help Someone You Know

Have you ever wondered…suspected…worried…that someone you know is being abused by his or her partner?

You might see bruises, black eyes, and broken bones – and you might not. A lot of abuse is invisible.  But, if you can’t shake the feeling that something is wrong, you’re probably right. And you’re right to take action – 50 % of the homicides in Maine are related to domestic abuse.

It’s hard to know what to say or how to say it, especially if you don’t know the person you’re concerned about very well. But be brave. Reaching out can reduce isolation – often one of the hardest aspects of domestic abuse. Your offer to help, in whatever way you can, could change – or even save – a life.

If you suspect someone – a friend, a neighbor, a client –  is being abused, here are some steps you can take.

  • Start a conversation. Find a safe, private place, and explain what you see or suspect.
  • Listen. Don’t make assumptions, and don’t press for information. It may not feel – or be – safe to talk.
  • Ask how you can help. Offer whatever support you feel you can. Remind her that abuse is not – ever – her fault.
  • Suggest resources, including the Spruce Run-Womancare Alliance hotline – 1.800.863.9909 – for more help and information.
  • Respect her choices, and her confidentiality – You may be tempted to take action and come to the rescue, but – because domestic abuse is such a complex issue – rescue attempts often backfire and can leave her even more vulnerable to danger. Don’t make assumptions about what she’s tried or about what she’s got to lose.
  • Do not assume that separation will end the abuse. Only the abuser controls the abuse.
  • Don’t accept excuses for abuse. It’s not kind or helpful to anyone.
  • Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own safety, too. Be a bridge, not a destination.

You can also…

  • Make sure Spruce Run-Womancare Alliance’s information is easily accessible. Hang a poster in the office kitchen or on the church bulletin board, or put cards in the bathroom….Call for materials and ideas, or order free materials.
  • Call the police if you see or hear domestic violence.
  • Organize workshops and schedule speakers about domestic abuse in your community, religious or civic group, or workplace.
  • Help your business, workplace, profession or religious community improve its response to domestic abuse. Check out our Prevention & Training pages.
  • Volunteer for Spruce Run-Womancare Alliance

You can make a difference.


Here are some other things to think about as you’re trying to help…
  • What might this person hope you can do?
  • What might she fear you will do?
  • What is your role? How will what you say be heard?
  • What is your potential impact or possible unintended consequence?
  • Do you have the time and/or skill to become involved?
  • When you ask, do you make time to listen?
  • Who else is involved?
  • What do you do when you don’t like your friend’s choices?
  • Do you tend to make assumptions about…
    • her experience?
    • her options?
    • how she’s been treated?
    • what she’s got to lose?

Do you know someone who is abusive? Refer him to a state-certified Batterers Intervention Program.