How can you help?

Supporting someone you know experiencing domestic abuse

It can be very upsetting to learn that someone is hurting a person you care about but you can help.  Your offer could make a huge difference to someone living in an abusive situation.  While there is no right way to help someone, there are some things you can do but remember if you witness an assault call the police on 999.

  • Talk in a safe, private place.
  • Listen to them, try to understand and take care not to blame. Tell them that they are not alone and that there are others in the same situation.
  • Acknowledge that it takes strength to trust someone enough to talk to them about experiencing abuse so give them time to talk, but don’t push them to go into too much detail if they don’t want to.
  • Acknowledge that they are in a frightening and very difficult situation.
  • Tell them that no one deserves to be threatened or hit, despite what their abuser has said. Nothing they can do or say can justify the abuser’s behaviour.
  • Support them as a friend. Encourage them to express their feelings, whatever they are.  Allow them to make her own decisions.
  • Don’t tell them to leave the relationship if they are not ready to do this. This is their decision.
  • Ask if they have suffered physical harm. If so, offer to go with them to a hospital or to see their GP.
  • Help them to report the assault to the police if they choose to do so.
  • Tell them about this website and organisation to help them. The National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247, is available 24/7.
  • Go with them to visit a solicitor if they are ready to take this step.
  • Plan safe strategies for leaving an abusive relationship. For more information read our Safety Plan > for help with doing this.
  • Offer your friend the use of your address and/or telephone number to leave information and messages, and tell them you will look after an emergency bag.
  • Look after yourself while you are supporting someone through such a difficult and emotional time.
  • Remember: Ensure that you do not put yourself into a dangerous situation; for example, do not offer to talk to the abuser about your friend or let yourself be seen by the abuser as a threat to their relationship.