I’m worried about someone else

This information has been reproduced with kind permission of Women’s Aid, May 2018. It is available in its latest format here, and remains the copyright of Women’s Aid.

The chances are high that you may know a family member, colleague, cousin or friend who is experiencing abuse behind closed doors.

Unless you are trying to help someone who has been very open about their experiences it may be difficult for you to acknowledge the problem directly.

However, there are some basic steps that you can take to assist and give support to a friend, family member, colleague, neighbour or anyone you know who confides in you that they are experiencing domestic abuse.

How can you help

  • Listen to them, try to understand and take care not to blame them. Tell them that they are not alone and that there are many people in the same situation
  • Acknowledge that it takes strength to trust someone enough to talk to them about experiencing abuse. Give them time to talk, but don’t push them to go into too much detail if they don’t want to.
    Acknowledge that they are in a frightening and very difficult situation.
  • Tell them that no one deserves to be threatened or beaten, despite what their abuser has told them. Nothing they can do or say can justify the abuser’s behaviour.
  • Support them as a friend. Encourage them to express their feelings, whatever they are. Allow them to make their own decisions.
  • Don’t tell them to leave the relationship if they are not ready to do this. This is their decision.
  • Ask if they have suffered physical harm. If so, offer to go with them to a hospital or to see their GP.
  • Help them to report the assault to the police if they choose to do so.
  • Be ready to provide information on organisations that offer help to abused women, men and their children. Explore the available options with them. Tell them about the Leeds Domestic Violence Helpline 0113 246 0401, and how to access this website.
  • Go with them to visit a solicitor if they are ready to take this step.
  • Plan safe strategies for leaving an abusive relationship.
  • Let them create their own boundaries of what they think is safe and what is not safe; don’t urge them to follow any strategies that they express doubt about.
  • Offer your friend the use of your address and/or telephone number to leave information and messages, and tell them you will look after an emergency bag for them, if they want this.
  • Look after yourself while you are supporting someone through such a difficult and emotional time. Ensure that you do not put yourself into a dangerous situation; for example, do not offer to talk to the abuser about your friend or let yourself be seen by the abuser as a threat to their relationship.
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