The Friends Wheel

Helping a friend in an abusive situation can be scary if you don’t know what to do. Even people who know how to help friends might forget in the moment. That’s where the Friends Wheel comes in!  It has six pieces – all ways to help a friend who is in an abusive relationship.

 The Friends Wheel

New Friends Wheel

Don’t Gossip

Give your friend the power to decide who should know, and who should not know. Maybe your friend feels comfortable telling you, but doesn’t want to tell other friends. 

Examples: Talk in private. Don’t tell other people without your friend’s permission. Remember how important it is to your friend.


Believe the Story

Your friend is telling you something important to them, and they deserve to have you believe them. It can be very difficult for someone to talk about assault or abuse, so be sure you really listen and believe them.

Examples: Listen and believe your friend. Acknowledge their feelings. Let them know they’re not alone. Thank them for feeling comfortable enough with you for sharing.


Tell Your Friend They Don’t Deserve to be Abused

People often start to believe that they deserve what’s happening to them for different reasons. Or sometimes friends don’t believe that it is abuse. Let your friend know that they are important and deserve a healthy, happy relationship. Remember that no one deserves to be abused!

Examples: Tell your friend that no one deserves to be abused. Remind them that they are important and deserve a healthy relationship. Let them know that you do not agree with the abuse.


Let Your Friend Make their Own Decisions

You may know everything there is to know about healthy and unhealthy relationships, but remember that your friend is an expert in themselves. They will know when they are ready for help.

Examples: Respect your friend’s right to make a decision. Respect that decision – don’t judge it. Continue to be there for your friend, no matter what their decision.

Make a Safety Plan

Work with your friend to make plans that will keep them safe no matter what is going on. If a situation becomes unsafe, it can be hard to make decisions or remember a phone number.

Examples: Where can your friend go? Write down the numbers they can call, including a hotline and a friend or family member. Where will your friend keep important documents? Do they have spare car keys or bus fare? Visit and use their Interactive Safety Plan to help! The page can be found here!

Give Help

Having local resources for your friend can make it easier than trying to find them in the moment. Be prepared and let your friend know that you will be there with them if they decide to seek help.

Examples: Ask your friend what kind of resources they’d like. You can search a list of resources here!


Used with permission from: Pathways of Courage,  Inc/WoMen and Children’s Horizon’s of Kenosha, Wisconsin
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