Help for family and friends
If you are worried about a friend, colleague or family member it can be extremely difficult to know what to say or how to help them. If their abuser is isolating them from friends and family this can be even more difficult.
If you are not sure if they are experiencing domestic abuse there are some early warning signs that you can look out for.
What you can do:
- Listen to them and believe what they say. Many perpetrators behave completely differently in public, it is essential that you believe what they are saying, even if it seems unlikely
- Do not judge them but reassure them that it is not their fault
- Do not tell them what to do or criticise them for not acting sooner, they must make this decision in their own time and when it is safe to do so
- Encourage them and offer to stand by them
- Be patient when they are talking about the abuse
- Allow them to open up in their own time but encourage them by asking direct open questions
- Tell them what they are doing well to build their confidence; it is likely their abuser will have repeatedly told them they are ‘useless’, ‘stupid’, a ‘bad mother/father’ etc… and they need to know this is not the case
- Find out information for them such as the contact details of their local domestic abuse services, the National Helpline numbers, or information on safety planning, planning to leave or what will happen if they report to a professional
- You could offer to be part of their safety plan. This could include agreeing a code word or other action that will signal that they need further help from you. Agree ahead of time, if possible, what that help would be but remember that your own safety must remain paramount, DO NOT put yourself at risk of harm – there are alternative ways to help.
It is incredibly difficult for someone who is being abused to admit that this is happening and seek help, if they have told you about it this is an important first step, if you require further help to cope with this please ring us on 0808 80 200 28.