October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. One in three women in the U.S. has been a victim of domestic violence, regardless of age, economic status, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Violence and trauma can lead to chronic health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, and cancer.

If you know a friend of loved one who is being abused, there are things you can do to help:

  • Set up a time to talk. Try to make sure you have privacy and won’t be distracted or interrupted. Let her know you’re concerned about her safety.
  • Be supportive. Listen to her. It may be very hard for her to talk about the abuse. Tell her that she is not alone, and that people want to help.
  • Offer specific help. You might say you are willing to just listen, to help her with childcare, or to provide transportation, for example.
  • Keep in mind that you can’t “rescue” your friend. She has to be the one to decide it’s time to get help. Support her no matter what her decision.
  • Let your friend know that you will always be there no matter what.

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