Do's and Don'ts when Helping an Abused Woman

Do's

  1. Do (if you are male) always have another woman present when you counsel or meet with her.
  2. Do believe her.
  3. Do reassure her that the abuse is not her fault.
  4. Do give her referral information, such as names of local advocates or a support group.
  5. Do support and respect her choices. Empower her so she can make her own choices.
  6. Do give her a Safety Plan form, especially if she is returning to the abuser.
  7. Do tell her to keep her plan somewhere besides her own home or car.
  8. Do introduce her to someone who will go with her to the police or doctor if she is hurt.
  9. Do protect her confidentiality. Give NO information about her or her whereabouts to anyone, especially the abuser, without her prior consent.
  10. Do help her with her spiritual worries. There are many excellent resources available to help her through this terrible spiritual struggle.
  11. Do let her know that her safety and that of her children are your most important concern, not the saving of her marriage.
  12. Do let her know that by separating from her spouse, she has not broken her marriage vows or disappointed God.
  13. Do let her know that the covenant of marriage was broken by her abuser, not by her. And it is possible for it to be restored, but it will be her call.
  14. Do pray with her for the discernment, courage and strength she needs.
  15. Do assure her of God's presence, His deep love for her, and His commitment to her.

Don'ts

  1. Do not blame her for his violence. Don't ask her "What did you do to make him mad?"
  2. Do not minimize her danger. First, you really don't know what happens behind their closed doors. Second, you can be her 'reality check' if she tries to minimize the situation.
  3. Do not tell her what she should do. She is the only one who knows what is and isn't safe for her.
  4. Do not react with anger or disbelief, like "I can't believe John would do that!". Let her know that he was wrong and she didn't deserve it.
  5. Do not recommend or suggest any kind of couples counseling.
  6. Do not send her back home with the impression that if she brings him to church, or is a better wife or more submissive, he will change. This makes his behavior her responsibility.
  7. Do not encourage her to be dependent on you. Do not get physically or emotionally involved with her. It may be better to get her connected quickly with a women's Christian support group or advocate.
  8. Do not encourage her to forgive him or take him back. Forgiveness and repentance are the Holy Spirit's work, and are done on God's timetable, not yours.
  9. Do not confuse the abuser's remorse with true repentance.
  10. Do not believe that just because you are a pastor or leader, you understand the dynamics of domestic abuse. As a result of this mistaken idea, you could put the woman and her children in grave danger, or even be responsible for their deaths.
  11. DO NOT DO NOTHING!