How To Help a Victim of Domestic and Family Violence
Statistics show that women seeking support for partner violence are most likely to ask family or friends for support. With that being the case, it can be very confronting and frightening if someone you know asks for help to get out of a violent environment. It is incredibly important that you are not only able to respond to them in the right way (this may be the first or fiftieth time they have asked for help), but also knowing WHAT to say and do is key.
Some signs you may see include;
- Your friend being overly worried about what their partner thinks or seems anxious around their partner
- Concerned their partner may get angry about something they say or do
- Making excuses for their partner all the time
- Avoiding friends and social outings that don’t involve their partner
- Joking about their partner’s violent outbursts
- Having injuries and offering unlikely explanations
- Loss of interest in activities they use to enjoy
If your friend or family member is displaying any of the above, you can talk to them gently and ask about how their relationships is going and how they are feeling. This may prompt them to be more open with you about what is really going on. Remember to be understanding, try to be non-judgemental and don’t be pushy – your friend or family member may be scared to open up about the violence because they are scared something may happen to them or someone they love. Feel free to express your concerns, however if your friend or family member does not want to talk, let them know you are there for them if they need you in the future.
If someone you know is being abused
If someone you know is a victim of domestic or family violence:
- Ensure, above all, you are considering safety first – is what you are saying / doing the safest for you or your family member / friend?
- Believe the person.
- Tell them they are never to blame for the violence against them
- Encourage the person to talk about safety planning with you or with a domestic violence worker (we have placed links to support lines at the end)
- Listen and be supportive and encouraging
- Offer to go with them to a support service if they choose they want to go
- Keep in touch with the person
- Talk with the person about a code word to identify when they are in danger.
- Let them use your phone to make contact with support services – it may not be safe for them to use their own.
- Confront the abuser yourself, this may put you or your family member or friend in a dangerous situation
- Pressure your friend/family member to leave the relationship. They know their own situation and what they are capable of doing at any given point.
- Tag your friend or family member in social media posts. This may alert their abuser to their location, or make a violent situation difficult for them.
If you are unsure how to support your friend or family member, you are able to access specially trained professionals using the 1800Respect line (1800 737 732). This is a nationwide, 24/7 support line for people experiencing or at risk of sexual violence and or domestic and family violence. In addition to support for victims, the line also provides support to family and friends of people experiencing or at risk of violence and support for other professionals supporting someone experiencing or at risk of violence.
If you are concerned you or someone you know is a victim of domestic and family violence, we encourage you to speak up. Access support on the White Ribbon Australia National support page. Local support can also be found here.
The Psych Professionals work to support our clients to develop the skills and strategies to live the life they deserve. We have clinicians who work with all ages who support in areas from anxiety, depression and trauma, to chronic pain, work issues and behaviour problems. If you want to know more about how we can help you, contact us and one of our friendly Client Relationships Team will get back to you.