When someone needs your support

Helping people to support others

If you know or think someone is a victim in an abusive relationship, you should be aware that they will be feeling a wide range of emotions. Often they will feel very scared, for themselves, their children and their future. Victims will also often think they are partly at fault, they may still love their partner and hope for a return to the days when everything was great and of course, often a victim of domestic abuse will feel embarrassed or ashamed.

These are all natural feelings and it is important to listen to what your friend is telling you. If your friend does not discuss it with you, you should ask direct questions such as “I am worried about you because …” but remember that it might take a long time before your friend is strong enough to be open with you.

Once you are having conversations make sure that you;

  • Listen – don’t offer your opinion about what your friend should do, s/he needs to make the decisions
  • Don’t tell her/him to leave and no not judge her/him. Leaving is a massive decision, with lots of problems such as where to go, money, pets, school/work, possessions, etc. It is important that you realise that at the point of separation or just after leaving the victim is most at risk
  • Tell your friend that s/he is coping really well with a difficult situation. Build her/his self confidence up
  • Do think about any children that are involved – if they are not safe you need to call Children’s Services on 01472 326292, option 2. It will be best to tell your friend that you are going to make the call
  • Are understanding – explain that they are not alone and that there are many people in the same situation.
  • Are supportive – tell them that no-one deserves to be threatened, controlled or hit, despite what the abuser may have said. Explain that it is not your friends fault in any way, the abuser should take responsibility for their behaviour.
  • You always let them make their own decisions. If s/he isn’t ready to leave a relationship, this is their decision. If s/he is in current or immediate danger you could suggest that they speak to the police / Women’s Aid.
  • Ask if they have suffered physical harm. Offer to get somebody to go to hospital with them if it’s necessary and help them report the assault to the police if they want to.
  • Give them information about the help that is available – see elsewhere on this Safer NEL website
  • Encourage your friend to work out a safety plan. Let your friend decide what is safe and what is not. Don’t encourage him/her to do anything that s/he’s not sure about. You could offer to keep things like important documents, spare set of keys, cash and clothes, etc at your house
  • Above all look after yourself. Whilst supporting someone do not put yourself in danger.