If you are worried that someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, sexual violence, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, or any other form of violence against women, it can be difficult to know what to do, but there are ways you can help.
If you think this person is in immediate danger, or if you witness abuse, you should always call 999.
If you live in Wales you can call the Live Fear Free helpline on 0808 8010 800, which can provide you with information and advice if you are worried about yourself, or someone else. More information about the helpline and what to expect when you call them can be found here.
If you are able to, let the person know that you are available to talk to confidentially. You may want to outline why you are worried about this person and then take the conversation from there. Don’t be offended if the person doesn’t open up straight away, they might not be ready yet, but knowing that there is someone they can rely on may encourage them to seek help when they are ready. It can take time for to recognise that a relationship is abusive, and even longer to be able to act on this realisation.
Suggestions of questions to ask:
As a concerned person, it can be frustrating because abuse survivors will not always take the course of action that you favour. You may find yourself wondering ‘why do they stay?’ or ‘how could they put up with it?’
It is important, however, to remember three very important things:
Above all, be patient. Your friend may need to talk about their situation numerous times, they may try to improve their situation or give the abuser several ‘last’ chances.
Help your friend or relative to build their self-esteem. Remind them of their good points, challenge them if they put themselves down or blame themselves, praise them for every step they take and let them know they have your support.
The importance of helping them to break the isolation should never be underestimated. Listen to what they say and let them guide you as to how best to support them. However, do remember that these situations can be dangerous, so whatever you do, be sure to keep yourself safe.
On a practical level you could:
Finally, get some support for yourself – call the Live Fear Free helpline if you need to talk.
You have to be strong if you’re going to be able to help them. Most domestic violence services are happy to help with any worries you may have or provide suggestions as to other actions you might take. Most importantly, don’t give up on them. You might be their only lifeline.
"We heard from experts and Gypsy & Traveller women with experience of domestic abuse directly and the stories they told were harrowing. Abuse can begin early and last years and when women try to flee, there are often significant barriers to overcome." publications.parliament.uk/pa…