Abusive relationships aren't just physical, they can also be spiritual as well as mental. Sure you can see those talk shows where the woman are crying because they are too afraid to do anything and some talk show host arranges a scare straight program for the husbands/boyfriends - but in reality, they only touch the surface. Only a select few get rescued by this 'miracle' while many more remain trapped without a hero of their own. Many of these abuse victims live in denial, even though they clearly explain the situation. Almost like they have a vail in front of their eyes and are unable to see the clear picture. Some even throw excuses around that just plain don't make sense at all. And some are afraid to leave. However, there are things YOU as a concerned family member, friend or neighbor can do to help them out of this unhealthy situation.
Help them pack
Flat out, this is the easiest thing you can do that immediately helps the person out of the situation. Especially if the abused one has only a short time alone before the abuser comes back. This can be a planned pack up and leave, too. Prepare the best course of action and allow the person (or you) to find a place for the abused one to stay. This can be a family members house, an abused womans shelter or even your own house if you're able and willing to let them stay until they can find a better place to live. The more you can get together at the same time to pack the essentials the better. Be sure you have plenty of time, though, not an hour or two. If the abuser works, this would be the most opportune time to get a packing party. Be sure to have the abused person OUT of the house and hopefully area well before the other person is due home.
Do not play hero
This includes trying to confront the abuser in any way, shape or form. If someone needs to confront him, leave it to the police or any other public authorities. You, yourself, do not need to end up being a victim of assault because trust me on this - if they find out you helped get their wife/girlfriend out of the house, they may very well take their anger out on you. Should you get confronted, though, do not give away where the victim is. It is not his business and chances are, you might endanger her life far more than ever before. Make sure if the abuser threatens you that you make note of it and contact the police immediately.
Child Protective Services
Contact Child Protective Services if there are children and you feel they are also in immediate danger. This is dire, mainly because recently I was unfortunate enough to hear a case about a father who was teaching his two young sons - both under 5 - to abuse their mother because she was merely a 'woman'. This can cause severe problems with the children later in life and even create future abusers. Also, if you feel that the abuser may also be hitting or otherwise bringing harm onto any children - the sooner they are away from him the better. Be sure to state that the mother has taken her children and left. CPS often times can help a mother get in contact with a case worker to assist her in getting on her own two feet and free of the abuse. This includes welfare and even housing assistance if they need it.
Get the abused victim to a hospital if required
If the abuse was of a physical nature, be sure that your first stop with the abused victim (and any children) is the hospital. If there are marks, cuts, burns or any other damages on the body, the hospital will make a note of this and in most cases even document it with pictures. This will come in handy if there is ever to be a court case or child custody battle. It may not be pretty, however, it has to be done. One can never be certain as to what internal damages there are based on outside bruises. Sometimes, even the hospital workers will contact the authorities needed in these instances.
Help victim out
Say that the time the victim has to get out is minimal and there's just no way you can pack up any items other than a few changes of clothes for her (and any of her children). You can always help out by going to a Salvation Army or other charity clothing place that's available and picking up a few toys, clothes and any other needed items for a relatively low price. While they aren't the best in quality, they come in handy when you just have no time for anything else. After the police have been notified of the situation she can always go back with a police escort to aquire other personal belongings. I insist on the police being called regardless of the situation because without them you haven't any real proof - especially if there are no signs of physical abuse. Offer to watch any young children if she goes out to look for a job - she's going to need one to get on her own and I can guarantee her big worry will be 'what will I do with my kids?'
There are other ways you can help out an abuse victim without harming yourself. However, these mentioned have often been the most critical and immediate actions others can do. Let the abused victim know that they aren't trapped, they can get out and they are not alone. Abuse, no matter what kind, is to be taken seriously at all cost. Remember to always act immediately before the situation becomes a life or death struggle.