Support someone in a situation of domestic and family violence (2023)

Signs of domestic and family violence

You may suspect that someone you know is a victim of domestic and family violence. These are some possible indicators. The person can:

  • appearing intimidated or frightened by their partner, or withdrawn or unspeakable, and children may appear shy, scared, or overly well-behaved in their partner's presence
  • being overly concerned with pleasing your partner
  • say their partner is constantly following, calling or texting to find out where they are, what they are doing and who they are with
  • are regularly criticized or verbally abused by their partner in front of you
  • change your behavior in the presence of your partner
  • shut up during a conversation with your partner or your partner dominates the conversation
  • receiving a look, action or gesture from your partner that makes you uncomfortable
  • say their partner is jealous and possessive and accuses them of having affairs, talking or thinking about other people
  • describing your partner or family member as being in a bad mood or mood, especially after having been drinking
  • seem concerned about your partner's use of drugs, alcohol, or your general well-being
  • repeatedly has bruises, spots, burns, scrapes, broken bones, or other injuries that do not match the explanation given
  • Wear inappropriate clothing such as scarves and long sleeves during the summer months, or wear heavy makeup and sunglasses indoors to hide signs of physical abuse.
  • is often late for work or appointments, or cancels appointments with you at the last minute
  • Stop seeing or talking to you, friends and family.
  • say their partner controls the money (i.e. gives them none or not enough and holds them accountable for every penny spent)
  • reluctant to work from home or come home after a day at the office or traveling
  • Include that your partner makes the important decisions at home, including decisions about parenting, finances, who to socialize with, where to go and how to spend time.

What can you do to help?

Most importantly, your friend or family member needs your support. Even if there is no immediate change, your support can help them evaluate their options and ultimately ensure their safety.

The initial discussion about domestic and family violence can be difficult. A controlling partner often blames the victim for the violence, so an abused person may fear judgment and fight back.

(Video) How to help someone in a family violence situation

  • The victim may be willing to talk when they feel safe and trust you.
  • Only try to start a conversation when the person isonlyin a place where it is safe to talk to you (consider surveillance) and where there is plenty of time to discuss the matter.
  • Start exploring what you saw, heard or felt. Questions like "I'm worried about you because I don't see you that often anymore" or "You haven't been happy lately" can help move the conversation forward.
  • It is important that you believe what they say. They tend to minimize abuse rather than exaggerate it. Many bullies are charming to others. What you see of their behavior can be very different from how they behave with their partner.
  • Try not to give advice on what you would do, as this can put the person under pressure. It is valuable to know that someone is available to support them and that support is ongoing.
  • It is important that you listen and not judge or criticize. To donoTell them what to do, but help them explore the available options.
  • When they're done talking, let them know you're interested and ask how you can help. Make it clear that the person who engages in violent or abusive behavior is responsible for their behavior, not you. The person experiencing violence or abuse cannot stop a person from becoming abusive, no matter how hard they try.
  • Avoid belittling the bully. This can make victims feel more isolated and judged, and they run the risk of not disclosing more.
  • You should let them know that there are organizations that can help, including services to help them escape violence if they so choose. If you think it's important to seek professional help, encourage the person to do it on their own. Do some research on them yourself.local domestic and family violence servicesSo you have some information to provide.
  • If you feel you need to seek professional guidance to better serve your friend or family member, it is important that you let them know that you can. Assure them that they can raise the situation with a professional organization without giving their name or identifying information.
  • Stay committed to the relationship you have with them, regardless of your choices. At the same time, remind them that everyone has the right to live free from violence. If they want to go to a shelter or a safe place, support them. If you are in immediate danger, call the police at Triple Zero (000).

It is important to protect yourself from danger. Being an effective bystander doesn't mean you have to put yourself in danger or do anything you don't feel is safe or appropriate. Please take care of yourself first and seek support if you feel you need it.

What if the victim doesn't want to talk?

If they don't want to talk, still express your concern for them. Tell them that domestic and family violence is never acceptable, that they didn't do anything to deserve or cause it, and that it's not their fault. You need to reassure them that you will support them and that you are willing to talk or help them if they ask.

My boyfriend doesn't want to leave the relationship... what can I do?

It's natural to worry and want your friend or family member to be safe. However, there are many reasons why your boyfriend might stay in the relationship. They may stay for love, fear, financial reasons, family loyalty or duty, familiarity and/or uncertainty about the future. They may feel that staying in the relationship is safer than leaving, at least for now. Keep in mind that making an important decision about the future is never easy, and forcing the person to leave may not be helpful.

Ending any relationship is difficult and when domestic and family violence occurs it can be very risky. There can be a number of reasons why a victim might feel unable to leave an abusive relationship. That can:

(Video) Why domestic violence victims don't leave | Leslie Morgan Steiner

  • Fearing for your life, the lives of your children or your family after being threatened by the perpetrator
  • believing that they have nowhere to go or that they will be found wherever they go
  • believe in your partner's promise to end violence and expect the relationship to remain free of violence or control
  • they believe they cannot manage on their own or alone with their children
  • They are encouraged or persuaded by others (such as family, friends, pastors, church elders) to stay in the relationship or give their partner another chance to change
  • having a cultural or religious belief that marriage is forever
  • fear of isolating themselves from family and friends
  • feel ashamed and believe that the violence is their fault
  • I hope that if they change their behavior, the violence will end.
  • have little or no access to money and believe they will not be able to support themselves or their children
  • are unwilling to take the children away from home and the other parent, or fear losing the children in a custody battle
  • reluctant to end the relationship after the years invested.

Knowing that you have their continued support is often the most valuable investment you can make in your friend. Remember that the decision to use violence rests with the perpetrator and is never the responsibility of the victim and/or bystander.

What should I say to the perpetrator of violence?

As effective bystanders, we treat those who cause harm with the same respect as those who are harmed. Being a role model of respectful behavior is crucial to behavior change. Offer assistance to help bullies, but do not tolerate their behavior or attitudes that might encourage their use of violence and control. Effective bystander intervention includes:

  • challenge sexist beliefs and attitudes
  • Yelling jokes or belittling at the partner's expense.
  • be aware that using force is a choice that will have negative consequences.

However, you must be careful. Directly confronting or confronting this person about their violent behavior could put you at risk and put the person being abused at greater risk.

What if there are children involved?

The effects of domestic and family violence on children and young people are serious, even if they are not the main target of violence or abuse.

(Video) How can you help someone experiencing domestic abuse?

If your friend or family member has children, you should share your concerns about the impact of violence or abuse on them and the children and ask how you can help them.

You can also:

  • support the child or young person
  • reassure them that it's not their fault
  • Let them know that violence or abuse is never okay.
  • To know moreabout child abuseYhow to report.

If you are the parent or guardian of a child raised in an abusive home, you may also:

  • Tell them they are loved and the violence is not their fault.
  • Encourage them to share their concerns and experiences.
  • Make sure they know how to ask for help, including how to call the police on Triple Zero (000) and how to give your home address
  • Get support from adomestic violence organization
  • Talk to a teacher, school leader or counselor about your concerns
  • If necessary, take you and your child to a safe place.

Remember that your safety comes first.

(Video) Family Domestic Violence

Where should I refer the victim for help?

It's important that you continue to provide support. Find information, services and support for people affected by domestic and family violenceon this siteHowever, if you are in imminent danger, call the police at Triple Zero (000).

Support someone at work

Domestic and family violence can affect a person's safety, well-being, attendance and job performance.

We have developed a Work Package on Domestic and Family Violence for Government Workplaces that we encourage local governments, businesses and non-governmental organizations to adapt to their workplaces.Access useful resourcesto support your workplace in meeting the needs of employees affected by domestic and family violence.

In addition to creating a supportive workplace, employers can help someone who is experiencing domestic and family violence on a personal level. If you are concerned about domestic and family violence in your workplace, contact DVConnect Womensline at 1800.811.811 or Mensline at 1800.800.636 for confidential support, advice and referrals to help you explore your options.

(Video) How to start a conversation with someone who may be experiencing domestic abuse

To know more

  • Resources for domestic and family violence
  • Support for victims of abuse
  • Young people in situations of domestic and family violence


How do you help someone in a domestic situation? ›

It's important for women to know that help is available from people who know and care about the situation.
  1. Approach them respectfully. ...
  2. Listen without judging. ...
  3. Support her. ...
  4. Allow her to make her own decisions. ...
  5. Help her find a domestic violence support service.
Oct 14, 2022

How can you help someone who might be a victim of violence? ›

How You Can Help Victims of Domestic Violence
  1. Listen: If possible, find a time and place that is safe and confidential to talk to your friend/family member. ...
  2. Offer support: Let them know they are not alone and that no one deserves to be hurt. ...
  3. Provide resources: Encourage them to reach out to community resources.

What are the 3 R's on stopping domestic violence? ›

As a military commander, I implore you to act on the three Rs of domestic violence awareness: recognize, respond and refer. Recognize the warning signs of domestic violence.

What are 4 steps that a person can take to take action against abuse? ›

Take action: 10 ways you can help end violence against women, even during a pandemic
  • Listen to and believe survivors. ...
  • Teach the next generation and learn from them. ...
  • Call for responses and services fit for purpose. ...
  • Understand consent. ...
  • Learn the signs of abuse and how you can help. ...
  • Start a conversation.
Nov 17, 2020

What advice would you give to your friend who has been suffering from domestic? ›

If they have suffered physical harm

Encourage them to seek medical help. Offer to go to the hospital / doctor with them. Help them to report the assault to the Police (if they wish to do so).

What is the best way to help a victim? ›

5 Rules for 'Rescuing' a Victim of Domestic Violence
  1. Don't talk to or in front of the abuser. Never start the conversation in the presence of the abuser. ...
  2. Ask, then listen. ...
  3. Believe the victim. ...
  4. Accept the victim's state of mind. ...
  5. Offer resources.
Apr 20, 2020

How do you comfort someone with abusive parents? ›

Listen: let your friend talk about what's going on and be a good listener. Try not to tell them what they need to do, other than to get help. Be supportive: encourage your friend to get support from a safe adult. Offer to support your friend if they're worried about telling an adult about the situation.

What action should you take if you suspect a person has been abused? ›

If at any point you believe your family member or someone you know is in immediate danger you should contact the police.

What do you say to someone who has experienced abuse? ›

Listen to their story (if they want to talk)
  • “Thank you for sharing.”
  • “You are not to blame for what happened to you.”
  • “You didn't deserve what happened to you.”
  • “I'm sorry this happened to you.”
  • “You are not what was done to you.”
  • “That was abuse, not healthy sexuality.”
  • “I support you in your healing process.”
Feb 27, 2019

What are four common acts of violence? ›

By looking more closely at the nature of acts of violence, these three categories can be further divided into four, more specific, types of violence:
  • Physical violence.
  • Sexual violence.
  • Psychological violence.
  • Neglect.

What are the five steps to managing violence and aggression? ›

Five steps to defuse occupational violence
  • Recognise that you are experiencing occupational violence as this allows you to immediately choose your response. ...
  • Stay calm. ...
  • Listen and Clarify. ...
  • Time out. ...
  • Document and report.
May 13, 2016

What is the best way to end the cycle of violence? ›

To break the cycle of violence, children need services that focus on problem-solving and conflict management skills, healthy self-esteem and self-worthiness. Positive peer groups and social support are also needed.

How do you deal with domestic conflict? ›

Suggestions include:
  1. Try to stay calm.
  2. Try to put emotions aside.
  3. Don't interrupt the other person while they are speaking.
  4. Actively listen to what they are saying and what they mean.
  5. Check that you understand them by asking questions.
  6. Communicate your side of the story clearly and honestly.

What is the immediate support that should be given to a victim who has just been violated? ›

Encourage them to seek help. Offer to be there for any of the things they might be going through, like going to the hospital or police. But also, be patient as they open up. Listen to them.

How do you give a domestic violence case? ›

You can approach your local police station or any other police station and file a complaint against domestic violence. The police will file a DIR/FIR and/or direct you to the protection officer of the district, who will be able to provide you with more assistance.


1. Domestic Abuse- What is it and how to help
(Order Force)
2. You Can't Ask That: Domestic and Family Violence survivors answer 'Why didn't you just leave?'
(ABC TV & iview)
3. Domestic violence | What you can do to help a friend?
(Jasmine Ama)
4. Assessing a client experiencing domestic abuse
5. Domestic violence: a child's perspective | Abi Cole | TEDxDurhamUniversity
(TEDx Talks)
6. How does the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 support victims fleeing domestic violence? - 25 Jan 2022
(Garden Court Chambers)
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