Help someone you know
Talk to them. Be prepared for the fact they may be very frightened, embarrassed, resigned or conflicted about whether to stay or leave. They may also avoid telling you what is going on at first.
What can I do to support him/her?
- Be patient. Give them time to decide to confide in you. You may have to start a conversation more than once before they start to speak about what’s going on.
- Be direct about your concerns. Say things like: ‘I’m worried about you because…’ or ‘I’m concerned about your safety…’
- Do not say negative things about their partner – as this may alienate them or make them feel ashamed so that they make no further disclosures.
- Do not advise them to leave or criticise them for staying. The decision to leave has to be made by them in their own time. It can take time for people to recognise they are being abused and then to decide what to do. They may be afraid of what their partner will do if they try to leave. They may have financial concerns or be worried about children. Reassure them that you are there for them whatever they decide.
- Reassure them that they are believed – too often people doubt initial disclosures of abuse
- Tell them that they are not responsible for another person’s behaviour and that the abuse is not their fault.
- Focus on supporting them and boosting their self esteem – remind them of their personal strengths.
- Help them to develop or maintain outside contacts.
- Encourage them to contact a local domestic violence organisation.
How can I help someone I care about to stay safe?
Safety is a paramount concern. Talk to them about how they can stay safe. Options include:
- Agreeing a code word or hand signal to indicate if they are in danger and need you to get urgent help.
- Advise them to contact the Cassandra Centre, their GP or other local domestic violence centre.
- Offer to keep a spare set of house or car keys or important documents, such as passports, bank account details and benefit information so that they will have access to them if they have to leave their home in an emergency.
- Keep a log of the abusive incidents they mention and keep copies of emails and texts