If you think someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, there is lots of advice available to you in a supporting role. Domestic abuse often involves control and coercion with violence or fear of violence, isolation or manipulation being at the centre of the abuse. You may notice something is not right but it is not always easy for someone to disclose their personal circumstances; they may fear any repercussions or they may be unable to see that what is happening to them is wrong.
Warning signs of someone experiencing domestic violence may include (but is not limited to):
- Seeming afraid of their partner or family member, or anxious to please them
- Agreeing with everything their partner or family member says
- Reporting to their partner or family member about where they are, what they’re doing or who they’re with
- Talking about their partner’s or family member’s temper or jealousy
- Having frequent injuries or “accidents”
- Frequently missing work, school or social occasions without a clear reason
- Wearing clothing that does not fit the season, such as long sleeves in summer to cover bruises or marks
- Experiencing personality changes, like low self-esteem in someone who used to be confident, or new depression or anxiety
- Suddenly or slowly pulling away from close relationships with friends and family or cherished hobbies
- Seeking their partner or family member’s approval for activities, friendships, purchases or plans
In supporting someone you know the main thing to remember is that they need to trust the person they are telling, in a safe space. GOV.UK provide the following advice (published 26 June 2020):
“If someone confides in you that they’re suffering domestic abuse:
· listen, and take care not to blame them
· acknowledge it takes strength to talk to someone about experiencing abuse
· give them time to talk, but don’t push them to talk if they don’t want to
· acknowledge they’re in a frightening and difficult situation
· tell them nobody deserves to be threatened or beaten, despite what the abuser has said
· support them as a friend – encourage them to express their feelings, and allow them to make their own decisions
· don’t tell them to leave the relationship if they’re not ready – that’s their decision
· ask if they have suffered physical harm – if so, offer to go with them to a hospital or GP
· help them report the assault to the police if they choose to
· be ready to provide information on organisations that offer help for people experiencing domestic abuse”.
If you are worried that a friend, neighbour or loved one is a victim of domestic abuse then you can call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline for free and confidential advice, 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247.
If you believe there is an immediate risk of harm to someone, or it is an emergency, you should always call 999.
It can be difficult and distressing to receive a disclosure of domestic abuse so it’s important that you look after your own emotional wellbeing. You may wish to explore the sources of support available so that you can access support if you need it.