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I’m worried about someone else

If you know or suspect that a family member, friend or work colleague has experienced a sexual assault or is experiencing domestic abuse, it can be difficult to know what to do or say.

I’m worried about someone else

If you know or suspect that a family member, friend or work colleague has experienced a sexual assault or is experiencing domestic abuse, it can be difficult to know what to do or say.

Don’t ignore the issue – there are things you can do to help:

  • believe them,
  • listening and not asking for details. They may not want to tell you everything that happened,
  • don’t ask why the violence or abuse happened,
  • reassure them that it is not their fault,
  • do not make plans for them, but encourage them to contact us at First Light,
  • respect their decision to report the violence or abuse. It is their decision to make,
  • be patient and don’t tell them to forget all about what has happened or to put it the past,
  • allow them to demonstrate their feelings by crying if that is what they need to do, even if their crying might upset you.
If you suspect a child or vulnerable adult has been abused, you must report it to either the Police or Children Social Care or Adult Social Care.

If you’re concerned for someone who’s in imminent danger, do not hesitate to dial 999.

Supporting someone experiencing domestic abuse

You can also support your friend or family member by discussing ways to keep safe.

Things to talk about might include:

    • encouraging them to focus on their own needs rather than the needs of the person hurting them,
    • Agreeing a code word or action that is only known to you both so that they can signal if they’re in danger.
    • helping them find out information about local services, support groups, and refuges.
    • Keeping a diary of what you see and hear,
    • offering to take photographs of any injuries that you are shown as this may be helpful at a later date,
    • offering to keep a spare set of keys or important documents, such as passports or benefit books, in a safe place for them so that they can access them quickly in an emergency,
    • keeping a small amount of money available to help them in a crisis, or offering to care for their pets if they want to leave,
    • keeping your own phone charged and on your person in case you need to use it,
    • adding numbers for the police and support services into your mobile via speed dial so they’re ready if you need them in an emergency.

Remember that leaving is the most dangerous time and so this should be done in a safe and planned way, if possible.

If they are an adult and decide not to report the violence or abuse it’s important to respect this as it is their decision to make, however if you suspect a child or vulnerable adult has been sexually abused, you must report it to either the police, or the council’s social care team. You can find more information about how to do this at https://sarchelp.co.uk

The police have specially trained officers who will contact you.

Look after yourself

It’s often very upsetting to discover that someone you care about is being hurt or abused and so it’s also very important to look after yourself while you’re helping someone through such a difficult and emotional period.

Ensure that you stay out of danger and do not offer to talk to the abuser about the situation.
If you’re worried about someone who’s experiencing or has experienced domestic abuse or sexual violence and want to talk through your concerns, please contact us for further support and advice on 0300 777 4 777.

More information

About First Light

First Light is a charity supporting people in Cornwall, Devon and Wiltshire who have been affected by domestic abuse and sexual violence.

Get help

If you or someone you know have experienced domestic abuse or sexual violence it can be difficult to know where to turn. First Light is here to help.

Our services

If you’re experienced sexual violence or domestic abuse, First Light are here to help you find a way through and move towards a brighter future.