It can be hard to know how to help a friend or family member when we suspect their relationship may be abusive. Our initial instinct is often to swoop in and protect her, however, this can be dangerous for both you and her. Reaching out to your friend or family member is the first step, though it is important to remember that leaving is often a process and doesn’t happen straight away. It takes on average 7 attempts before a woman leaves an abusive relationship for good.
Here are some helpful tips to safely support somebody you fear is experiencing of Domestic Abuse:
- Create a safe, private and judgement free space for her to talk to you.
Women in abusive relationships often don’t speak out through fear of being judged or not believed. It is important that the woman feels safe and that you will understand in order to help her open up.
- Tell her you are worried about her.
Try starting conversations with things such as, “Are you ok?” “You haven’t seemed yourself lately” “Is everything OK at home?”
- Be patient.
Even if you know something is going on at home, you need to give her time to fully open up. Avoid being verbally forceful and telling her what to do as this has the potential to make her retreat and choose not to say anything further.
- Listen and tell her you believe her.
Victims of abuse are often dismissed even by friends and family. People often say things like “they wouldn’t do that; they seem so nice”. It is important to recognise what is being said will have taken a lot of courage to say and it is vitally important that you listen to her and believe her.
- Remind her that it’s not her fault.
She may have been told they hit her because she made them angry. They cheated on her because she wasn’t giving them enough attention, or they control the money because she can’t be trusted. It is common for a victim of abuse to excuse the perpetrators behaviour. It is important to emphasise that nothing she could have done justifies the abuse she has suffered.
- Don’t judge her.
It may be difficult for you to understand why she hasn’t left. Leaving an abusive relationship is complex. The first step is her opening up to you. Be supportive, build her confidence and focus on her strengths.
- Reassure her that she is not alone.
If a woman has been isolated by a partner she may feel alone, like nobody is there for her and nobody cares. It is important for you to make her see she is not alone and to help her to see there is a future away from abuse.
- Tell her about our support service.
Encourage her to call Safespots on 07873889637 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
We can help her to untangle the web of options and overcome the barriers that come with choosing to leave an abusive relationship.