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Domestic Abuse - How you can help a friend or colleague

If you suspect a friend or colleague is suffering domestic abuse, there are several basic steps that you can take to try and assist.

Domestic abuse isn't just physical violence.

1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will be victims of Domestic Abuse. It can be: Mental - Emotional - Sexual - Financial control - Bullying - Isolation - Harassment - Forced marriage - Honour based violence.

Don't leave a friend to suffer in silence

Unless the person you are trying to help has been very open about their experiences, it may be difficult to acknowledge the problem directly. You may have noticed a change in behaviour or become suspicious of injuries received.

Try to discuss your concerns tactfully, but you should not force them to confide in you. If they do, there are several basic steps that you can take to try and assist.

  • Be understanding
    • Explain that there are many people in the same circumstances as them.
    • Acknowledge it takes strength to trust someone to talk about it.
    • Allow time to talk.
    • Be open minded and approachable.
  • Be supportive
    • Explain no-one deserves to be threatened or beaten.
    • Be a good listener and encourage them to express their anger and hurt.
    • Avoid questions like "What did you say?".
    • Reassure them that all information that you receive is confidential.
    • Provide support in dealing with conflicting and confusing emotions.
  • Let them make their own decisions
    • Don't take control.
    • Give them time and space to take control of their own lives.
    • Do not judge them.
  • If they have suffered physical harm
    • Encourage them to seek medical help.
    • Offer to go to the hospital / doctor with them.
    • Help them to report the assault to the Police (if they wish to do so).
  • Provide information
    • Obtain information about support agencies and women's refuges.
    • Help explore the options available.
    • If safe to do so, encourage them to keep a diary of the abuse / assaults.
  • Help plan safe strategies for leaving the abusive relationship
    • Allow them to make their own decisions regarding what is safe and what is not.
    • Don't encourage any strategy that they express concern with.
  • Consider offering the use of your address and/or telephone number
    • This may help with obtaining information or receiving messages.
    • May also be useful to keep important documents/items at the alternative address. (Important telephone no's, passport, banking details, credit cards, spare clothes, medication, birth/marriage certificates, spare cash, items of sentimental value).
  • Look after yourself while you are supporting someone
    • Do not put yourself in a dangerous situation.
    • Do not offer to talk to the abuser about your friend.
    • Do not let yourself to be seen by the abuser as a threat to their relationship.
    • Consider seeking advice or counselling for yourself.