Changing for Good
As a trusted friend, family member or community worker, your support may be key to helping someone who is experiencing domestic violence.
Domestic violence can be physical, verbal, sexual, social, economic, spiritual or psychological, and can occur inside or outside of the home. Implications can be far reaching, causing ongoing physical and psychological harm to victims and their families, but it can be difficult to know how, or when to help.
Below are some tips on how you might support someone you’re worried about.
What are the signs?
You may not be certain if someone is experiencing domestic violence, as they may be trying to hide it, out of fear or embarrassment. Abuse can also occur in cycles (where an abuser may promise it won’t happen again), making it even harder for people to decide to speak up.
Even if someone hasn’t told you they are experiencing abuse, you may notice the person you are concerned about:
- Seems afraid of their partner
- Has stopped seeing people close to them
- Has physical signs of abuse, such as bruising, sprains, cuts or broken bones (which they may say they are accidents)
- Seems anxious, depressed, scared or exhausted.
Or you may have noticed that their partner (or ex-partner):
- Often humiliates them, publicly and/or privately
- Monitors their calls, or continually messages or calls
- Stays with them all the time and won’t allow them out alone
- Shows controlling behaviours, such as withholding access to money or encouraging them to leave their job or studies.
How can you help?
If you have decided to offer help, make sure you have time to listen, and are in a safe space.
You may like to consider the following:
- Don’t underestimate the importance of just being there – talking to you could be the first step in getting help
- Give them time to open up and don’t force the conversation
- If they don’t want to talk (perhaps out of shame, guilt, or fear), you can still tell them you are concerned, and that there is no excuse for violence or abuse
- Believe what they are saying and take their fears seriously
- Don’t force them into taking action. They may find it difficult to do so for a wide , and will feel worse if you judge them
- Discuss options, but do not chose for them – they need to feel in control of the next steps. You can suggest they have a safety plan in place, and can help them find assistance to develop one
- There a number of free professional services that can help you or the person of concern. Let them know about the help available to them.
Never confront the suspected perpetrator of violence, as you could be placing yourself, or the person being abused at further risk.
Call 000 if anyone’s safety is at risk.
Changing for Good welcomes new participants who want extra support in their efforts at change. We also welcome participants who have difficulty accessing a men’s behaviour change program for a variety of reasons. Just call 1300 015 120 and leave a message with your name and contact details and one of the team will follow up with you.