Supporting someone who is being abused
Supporting someone who is in an unhealthy relationship can be difficult, particularly if they don’t recognise their situation. Many people feel concerned that, by helping, they might actually make the situation worse or lose contact with the person they are trying to support.
Whether you are sure someone is in an unhealthy relationship, or just have some suspicions, it can be hard to know what to do to help. Support can come in many different forms depending on the circumstances. Every situation is different, trust your instincts and judgement. To really help, it’s important that you:
- be supportive
- encourage them to find free, local support
- focus on safety
- contact the police, if you feel they are in immediate danger
It’s equally important not to judge them for the decisions they make, or to do anything that will increase their risk, such as challenging the person causing the harm.
Get more tips about having a conversation with someone experiencing domestic abuse.
Practical things you can do
- Be a friend they can talk to at any time
- Ask questions – Are you ok? Do you feel safe at home? Can I do something to help?
- Make sure they know your door is always open to them
- Challenge the behaviour – It’s not ok that they are being hurt, or feel scared. Tell them this, and that it is not their fault, and that there is help available.
- Offer to look after their children
- Offer them a safe place at your home – whether it be for a few hours, overnight or for a period of time whilst they look for new housing
- Offer other help – perhaps financial help if you are in a position to do so, or you can lend or buy important things for them like food, clothes, toiletries and household items. You could let them keep some of their belongings at yours, either to store whilst they arrange somewhere to live, or as a secret ‘survival’ kit to have available when they are able to leave the relationship safely.
- Get help if you feel they are in danger. Find free support, and find out what happens when you contact the police or contact a domestic abuse charity.
- Don’t put yourself in danger. If you feel there is an immediate threat to a person’s life, call 999.
If you have concerns about a relationship, you can formally apply for a police check into a person’s background. Find out more about the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, known as Clare’s Law.