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?
- 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
- 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
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.