If someone tells you that they are experiencing domestic abuse or if you suspect that there is something going on behind closed doors, it may be difficult to respond too.  You can let that person know you are available to talk to confidentially, you can outline what worries you.

Don’t be offended if a person is not ready to open up, they may not recognise the abuse or want to do anything about it at this moment in time.

If you think this person is in immediate danger, or if you witness abuse, you should always call 999.

If you live in Wales you can call the Live Fear Free helpline on 0808 8010 800, which can provide you with information and advice if you are worried about yourself, or someone else.

Suggestions of questions to ask:

  • What can I do to help?
  • How is it affecting you?
  • How have you been coping with the abuse? What can you do to make yourself safer?
  • What are you afraid of if you leave / stay?
  • Do you know when it’s going to happen?  Is there a pattern?
  • What’s your worst-case scenario for yourself / your children?
  • What do you already do to protect yourself / your children? 
  • Which of the things you do to protect yourself / your children work in practice, and which don’t?
  • What external resources are there to help you cope? (E.g. support networks of friends and family, access to money, access to alternative accommodation and so on).  Can these be increased?
  • Can I help you find out about what other choices might be available?
  • Which options would be most realistic for you?  What do you see yourself as actually being able to do?  (Focus on those.)

 Some other simple things you can do to help.

  1. Listen - don't judge or blame and give a safe space to talk.  Don't push for too much detail if they don't want to tell you.
  2. Acknowledge and Validate - what is going on, their feelings and whatever else they are telling you
  3. Tell them they are not on their own, other people experience domestic abuse
  4. Be ready to give information about local organisations such as CarmDas than can give them support and information
  5. Don't tell them to leave.  This has to be their decision, and it might not be safe to do so
  6. If appropriate, be a friend, offer the use of your address and/or telephone number.  Offer to look after an emergency bag, keep copies of important documents such as passports, driving licences, medical information.
  7. Keep yourself safe - do not put yourself in a dangerous situation.  Don't let yourself be seen as a threat to the abuser

Remember - be patient.  Maybe they are hoping things will change and don't see themselves as a victim.  They may feel they can't cope on their own or believe what they have been told about themselves.  They might not be ready to leave.  It can take many attempts to leave.