If you are worried about someone: Supporting a friend or family member experiencing Domestic Abuse

If you know or suspect that a family member, friend or work colleague is experiencing domestic abuse, it can be difficult to know what to do. It can be very upsetting to discover that someone you care about is being hurt or abused.

Your first reaction may be to intervene or want to help them to leave, but this can be dangerous for both you and the person experiencing the abuse. However, that doesn’t mean you have to ignore it because there are things you can do to help.

Encourage them to contact First Light and speak with a fully trained member of staff who can assess the risk, discuss safety planning and offer emotional support and advice about the person’s available options.

You can support your friend or family member by talking through the advice they have been given and discuss ways to keep safe, for example:

  • Agree a code word or action that is only known to you both so that they can signal when they are in danger or are in a situation where they are unable to access help for themselves
  • Don’t make plans for her/him yourself, but encourage them to think about their safety and that of any children more closely and focus on their own needs rather than the needs of the person hurting them.
  • Remember, that leaving is the most dangerous time and so this should be done in a safe planned way if possible.
  • Find out information about local services, support groups, and refuges.
  • You can offer to keep a spare set of keys or important documents, such as passports, benefit books, in a safe place for them so that they can access them quickly in an emergency. Perhaps keep a small amount of money available to help them in a crisis, or offer to care for their pets if they want to leave.
  • Keep your own phone charged and on your person in case you need to use it in an emergency. If you are concerned for someone being in imminent danger, do not hesitate to dial 999.
  • Input numbers for the police and support services into your mobile via speed dial if required in an emergency
  • Think about keeping a diary of what you see and hear. Offer to take photographs of any injuries that you are shown. This may be helpful to this person at a later date.
  • Remember to try not judge this person and to reassure them that the abuse is not their fault. Show them they are supported and believed by you.
  • Look after yourself while you are helping someone through such a difficult and emotional period. Ensure that you do not put yourself in danger; for example, do not offer to talk to the abuser about the situation.

If you want to talk through your concerns, please contact us for further support and advice if you are worried about someone who is experiencing domestic abuse.