Two men sat talking

Talking to a friend about their violence

You might think it’s best not to say anything because you might say the wrong thing. But saying the wrong thing isn’t the worst thing. The worst thing is staying silent. By saying nothing, you’re part of the problem.


“I thought if they wanted my help they would ask for it… all along I had a gut feeling something was wrong but he was always so nice to us. How could he be such a great mate and do something like that?”


Does your friend seem to:

  • Expect their partner to spend all of their time with them or to “check in” constantly?
  • Act extremely jealous and/or possessive of their partner?
  • Isolate their partner by controlling where they go, who they see, who they talk to, or what they wear?
  • Treat their partner with disrespect and put them down?
  • Put down their partners friends and family, their dreams, ideas and/or goals?
  • Lose their temper frequently over little things?
  • Make their partner feel as if they are walking on eggshells to keep the peace?
  • Make threats to hurt or leave their partner, hurt any pets, destroy property and/or threaten to commit suicide if their partner doesn’t do what they want?
  • Play mind games or make their partner feel guilty?
  • Control their partners fiances or spiritual beliefs?
  • Verbally abuse their partner?
  • Refuse to take responsibility for their actions? Blaming their partner, any kids, drugs or alcohol, their boss, parents, etc. for their behaviour?

You may have seen none of these things. But if you have a gut feeling or you’ve seen something you don’t like, find a quiet moment to check in with your friend.

These are what’s known as “red flags” for abuse and domestic violence. They are the signs that there may be violence or abuse in a relationship.


How you can help

  • Choose the right time and place to talk. Wait until your friend is calm and offer help.
  • Be direct and clear about what you have seen and what worries you.
  • Remind your friend you care about them.
  • Don’t argue or try to force your friend to do anything, or to see things your way. This could make things more dangerous for your friends partner. Keep the lines of communication open so you can be an influence on your friends thinking.
  • Tell your friend that their behaviour is their responsibility, especially if they continually try to blame their partner.
  • Remind them that there is hope. They can change, and that there is help available.
  • Try to avoid making judgemental comments.
  • Tell them the violence needs to stop.
  • Remind your friend that violence and control does not make their family safe.

Call MensLine Australia on 1300 78 99 78 to get more advice on how to talk to your friend or how to help their partner get the support they need.

We can also help if you want ideas or information about programs that can help your friend stop using violence.


If you need to talk to someone, give one of our MensLine Australia counsellors a call on 1300 78 99 78 or access free video and online counselling.

MensLine Australia Changing for Good program

Changing for Good is a program to help men stop using violence in their family and relationships.

We work with men to help them recognise their abusive behaviours and end their use of violence. By providing ongoing support, specialist counselling and resources, our goal is to help men make and sustain changes in violent or abusive behaviours as well as attitudes that support violent behaviours. By working with men to end their use of violence, we help to increase the safety of women and children who have or are experiencing domestic or family violence. To find out more, visit Changing for Good.