If you think someone you know is suffering domestic abuse, there are things that you can do to help.
Be sensitive and caring
- Approach the issue in a sensitive and caring way, 'I am worried about you because...'
- Believe what they tell you.
- Do not be judgmental or expect them to make a sudden decision.
- Take the abuse seriously. Abuse and fear of violence can be very damaging, both physically and emotionally. It is very destructive to a person's self-confidence and self- esteem.
- The importance of breaking the silence and ending the isolation someone feels cannot be underestimated. Always listen to what they say.
- Acknowledge their strengths and constantly remind them of the fact that they are coping well with a challenging and stressful situation.
- Friends and family members might think they should remain 'neutral', in a domestic abuse situation, but the victim may see this as ignoring it. The abuser may see it as evidence that their behaviour is acceptable. You may not be able to help immediately but it's important you are readily available to provide some form of support when it's required.
- Let them know that you are concerned and want to support and help them.
- Ensure your response supports and encourages them to talk about the situation. It could create an opportunity for them to explore their options and in time make their decisions.
- Reassure them that the abuse isn't their fault. Abuse is a choice the abuser makes and they are solely responsible for their abusive behaviour.
- Do not mediate or be the contact person between them and the abuser.
It is important to remember - they are the one who has to live with the consequence of any decisions and actions. Leaving is an extremely difficult decision to make, involving both emotional pressure, promising to change their behaviour. Frequently, leaving a violent/abusive partner only signifies the end of the relationship but not the end of the violence or abuse.
Remember that supporting someone is a challenge take things easy and look after yourself while supporting your friend or family member of emotional and domestic abuse.
- Assure them of the fact that they are not alone and there is help available to them.
- Encourage them to speak to a specialist support organisation if they haven't spoken to one already for further support.
- Agree a code word that they can use to signal that they need help.
- Offer to keep safe copies of important documents and other items in case they decide to leave in a hurry.
- Find out about local services and helpline numbers.
- Offer practical help such as the use of your address for post, telephone or computer.
- Encourage the person to break the isolation - reporting the abuse can be the first step.
- Encourage them to take all threats very seriously - never minimise the threats made by the abuser.
- If you witness an assault, PLEASE CALL THE POLICE IMMEDIATELY ON 999.
- Most of all be very patient and do not give up on them because your help and support can make a big difference.