What can I do if someone I know is being abused? For the Trans community

Publication Date: 
2010
Resource Origin: 
Springtide Resources

Listen.

Be open to listening to what they have to say. Just having a friend who will listen without judging can be really powerful. As trans people, we all know that, right? Remember how important it was when you first decided to transition to have someone just listen to you without judgement? Often that's what your friend/family member/coworker needs from you when they are experiencing abuse.

Let her or him or her know that you believe them.

The fear that no one will believe them keeps many people trapped in cycles of abuse. If someone discloses abuse to you, listen carefully and then tell them that you believe them (and mean it). People rarely lie about abuse. Knowing that someone believes them can help the person to open up and explore ways of ending the abuse.

Respect their decisions, even if you disagree.

Someone experiencing abuse needs to be able to make their own decisions about what they need and how they want to address the issue. Just as we needed our friends and family to be respectful of our decisions to transition, take or not take hormones, have or not have surgeries, someone experiencing abuse needs their decisions to be respected. That includes their decisions to stay with their abuser, or return to their abuser.

Safety plan.

One active thing you can do to help someone you know who is being abused is to help them come up with a safety plan. Check out our page on safety planning for more information.

Help them find local resources.

Look up the names and phone numbers of shelters for people experiencing abuse, as well as counsellors, and other services. If the person is trans, it helps to call these places in advance to check that they are trans-positive. Giving these names and numbers to someone you know who is experiencing abuse can be really helpful, but remember to respect their decisions to call or not to call any or all of the services.

Remember to take care of yourself.

Even if you aren't experiencing the abuse, it can be really hard and stressful to know that someone you care about is dealing with abuse. Take time for yourself, and be gentle with yourself. You aren't responsible for saving anyone, or making everything better. All you can do is try to give support and be there for the person.

Resource developed by Morgan Page for T-GUAVA.

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