Your first instinct might be to intervene and come to their defence, but that could be dangerous for both of you.
As their friend, you should encourage them to open up to you, but be prepared to give them time and be aware it may take several attempts before they are able to confide in you.
It is also important that you believe what they are saying and don't judge them – the victim is never to blame for the abuse they are suffering.
Although you may think the victim should just walk away from the relationship, leaving can be an incredibly difficult thing for someone to do and you should never criticise anyone for staying with their partner.
They may feel scared, feel that they are to blame and the abuse will stop if he/she changes their behaviour, or they may still love their partner and be living in hope that the abuse will stop.
Leaving can also be difficult if they are dependent on their partner both financially and emotionally, and if the abuse has made them feel resigned and helpless.
Instead, you can play an important role by ensuring they don’t isolate themselves from their family and friends, support them and help re-build their confidence – allowing them to make their own choices about leaving the relationship and reporting abuse to police.
In an emergency, always dial 999. In a non-emergency, you can call 101 or report online to us. Alternatively, you can talk to Herts Sunflower, an independent charity on 08 088 088 088.