The following information has been adapted from the What do you do when she tells you? brochure produced with Partnerships Against Domestic Violence (PADV) funding.

What are the signs?

Often there will be nothing obvious. Friends and family can interpret signs of fear as the victim being 'quiet' or 'responsive to her partner'. Have you noticed that:

  • They seem nervous, depressed or withdrawn?
  • They seem overly anxious about him & his moods?
  • The partner controls the money, children, social activities, work, clothes and friends?
  • The partner often orders her about or makes all the decisions?
  • They have stopped seeing her friends and/or family?
  • They have bruises, cuts or sprains?

If a friend, neighbour or family member tells you they are experiencing violence in their home be prepared to:

  • Listen to them
  • Believe them
  • Suport them
  • Be non-judgemental

Family violence is not a private matter. Helping isn't 'interfering'.

How do you know if you should get involved?

Involvement doesn't mean having to solve the situation - it's helping your friend find their own answers, and putting them in contact with support services if they need them.

  • Most people will appreciate an expression of concern for their well-being
  • If they have chosen to talk to you, it is probably because they trust you
  • Your support can make a difference
  • You decide how much support you can offer

What can you do?

The most important thing you can do is listen without judging, respect their decisions, and help them find ways to become stronger and safer. Things you can say include:

  • I believe you
  • You do not deserve to be abused
  • I am afraid for your safety and the safety of your children
  • Do you need help to find out what services are available?

Practical assistance

If you are going to support a victim of family violence you can think about what the victim will need to be safe and do the following with them:

  • Make sure the victim has a list, with phone numbers, of services they can contact if they need to. Go to the family violence services page for a list of available services.

Remember there are services available to help victims, the most helpful thing you can do is help them contact them.