It’s important to consider the following when supporting your friend, family member or colleague

  • Do not make excuses for the abuser
  • Do not try to justify it or explain it – abusive is never acceptable and never excusable.
  • You cannot fix the relationship or stop the abuse. No amount of talking to a perpetrator of abuse will stop the abuse, and in most circumstances talking to a perpetrator of abuse about their behaviour will put the victim and their children at greater risk of harm.
  • You don’t know what’s best. The victim understands the perpetrator’s behaviour better than anyone else. They understand what behaviour precedes a violent incident; they know the perpetrators routine – when the check-in phone calls will happen for example. They understand the networks that the perpetrator has and then the likelihood of them being followed and found by the perpetrator. Due to this it is imperative that the victim and their views, opinions and suggestions sit in the centre of any decisions and safety planning.
  • Getting involved doesn’t mean it’s just your problem to solve. Specialist services are available to offer different support to victims from accommodation-based support services (Refuges), community based support (Independent Domestic Violence/abuse Advocates IDVA), community based support groups
  • Do not expect there to be a quick fix for solving domestic abuse. Wrongly, there is an assumption that as soon as a victim leaves their abusive partner that the abuse will stop. In most cases, the abuse will continue after separating from their abusive partner. We know that a victim and their family are at an increased risk of significant harm at the point of separation, and that risk does not reduce for at least six months.
  • Do not suggest that a victim changes their behaviour – for example how they dress or who they speak to. Making these suggestions could reinforce what the perpetrator has said, and it will seem as if you are colluding with the abuser.
  • Avoid advising that removing themselves from social media will stop the abuse. Social media is a communication tool which, along with its many negative aspects, allows many people to feel connected to their friends and family, and part of something bigger than themselves (online community) and may help with loneliness and isolation. It is important to discuss online safety, changing privacy settings on social media accounts, turning off location finder (cellular data) on social media accounts, smart phones and tablets.
  • They may return to their abusive partner. Sometimes those who experience domestic violence return to their abusive relationships. There are many reasons for why a victim may feel that their only option is to return to the abusive relationship, and each is specific to the individual’s circumstances. For example: threats from family members, fear of the separation having a negative impact on the children – such as removing them from their friends, family and school and homelessness.
    It is important that we try to understand why they are returning, and ensure that they can come back to you for support if they choose to leave, and make sure they know to call the police in an emergency situation and have the telephone number of a specialist domestic abuse service. You can refer them to the Bright Sky app, which has a UK wide directory of these services, searchable by GPS location, area or postcode.
  • Children are the hidden victims of domestic abuse. Supporting the victim to leave an abusive relationship safely is incredibly important. Support should be provided for both the victim and their children, and advice sought from specialist support services.
    It is also important that we refrain from making comments such as, ‘they cannot keep themselves and the children safe’, as this implies control over the abuse that is being perpetrated against them, and could sound like you’re blaming the person experiencing the abuse.
  • Be kind to yourself, it can be difficult, at times dangerous and emotional exhausting providing support to someone you care about or work with. You don’t need to do it alone.
    Local specialist domestic abuse services and national helplines are available to work with you and person you are concerned about. Do not hesitate to reach out and work together.


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