If you or someone you know is using abusive behavior, click here for a list of the Colorado Domestic Violence Offender Management Board’s approved treatment providers.

How to help someone who is abusive

The first step to helping someone who is abusive is to hold them accountable for their decision to abuse. It is a choice to be abusive towards your partner. It is also a choice not to: it is not easy for an abuser to stop abusive behavior, and it requires a serious decision to change.

Nobody wants to think they know an abuser.  But whether it’s a friend, a family member, a neighbor or a co-worker, the chances are good that sometime you will notice someone treating a spouse or partner in a way that makes you uncomfortable. And you worry that when they’re alone, it may be worse.

What can you do?

Draw attention to it: “When you do that, it’s really disrespectful.”  “Did you mean to be so rough? That’s not cool.”

Tell your friend what you think: “This makes me really uncomfortable. It’s not right.” “I’m surprised to see you act that way. You’re better than that.” “I care about you, but I won’t tolerate it if you’re abusive.”

Offer suggestions or solutions: “Kids learn from their parents. Is this how you want your kid to behave?”  “How would you feel if your daughter chose someone who acted like this?”

If your friend demonstrates behavior that is criminal, tell him so: “Domestic violence is a crime. You could be arrested for this.”   “You could end up in jail if you don’t find a way to deal with your problems. Then what would happen to you and your family?”

Will it make a difference?

Maybe not. But you know that you need to say something. Your silence is the same as saying you condone the behavior.

Or maybe it will make a difference. Maybe your friend will take you seriously and decide to change. The sooner you reach out to someone who is living with violence, whether they are the victim or abuser, the sooner they can get help.


The following are resources that can help you to identify abusive behavior, approach abusers about their behavior, and provide information about treatment and education options for abusers who make the decision to stop their abusive behaviors. Remember: before taking any action, consider the safety of the victim. If you know the victim, discuss your thoughts with her so that she can appropriately safety plan.