It can often be very difficult for a woman to even recognise she is in an abusive relationship, never mind talk to someone about it. However, if you suspect a person is experiencing domestic abuse, please do not ignore it. You can support a friend by following these useful tips.

Begin the conversation

Below are some suggestions on talking with someone in a constructive way. These bullet points are for guidance and not all of them have to be used. Use your discretion.

  • Approach her in an understanding, non-blaming way
  • Explain to her that you are concerned for her or that you are worried
  • Give her time to talk; don’t push her to go into too much detail if she doesn’t want to
  • She may deny that her partner is being abusive, do not pressure her to admit it
  • Tell her that she is not alone and that there are many women like her in the same situation
  • Tell her that no-one deserves to be threatened or beaten, despite what her abuser has told her
  • Acknowledge that it takes strength to trust someone enough to talk to them about experiencing abuse

Let her define what she needs

  • Be a good listener
  • Allow her to make her own decisions, even if it means she isn’t ready to leave the relationship. This is her decision
  • Also, be aware that leaving an abusive relationship is the most dangerous time for a victim
  • She is often the best placed to assess her own risk
  • Tell her you want to help. Ask her what you can do to support her?

Provide information

  • Be ready to provide information on the help available to abused women and their children
  • Read more about the services that are available
  • Explore the available options with her
  • Help her find her nearest domestic abuse support service
  • Support her if she wants to contact them
  • If she has children, talk to her about their safety
  • Encourage her to seek support if she feels the children are being affected by the situation

Be there as support

  • Ask if she has injuries or needs medical help
  • Offer to go with her to the hospital if she needs to go
  • Help her to report the assault to the Gardaí (police) if she wants to
  • Go with her to visit a solicitor if she is ready to take this step

Safety plan

  • Create a safety plan
  • Let her create the boundaries of what is safe and what is not safe
  • Don’t encourage her to follow any plans that she is expressing doubt about
  • Offer her the use of your address and/or telephone number as it might be safer than her own

Finally

Look after yourself while you are supporting someone through such a time. Ensure that you do not put yourself, or her, into a dangerous situation. For example, do not offer to talk to the abuser about your friend. Do not let yourself be seen by the abuser as a threat to their relationship.

Contact a service near you.

Other useful links

Cosc’s What Would You Do Website
Tusla Child Protection and Welfare Strategy