We often get asked, what is the best way to help a friend or family member? Here is some advice on how to approach someone if you think they are being controlled or abused:
Approach them sensitively:
It’s never going to be an easy conversation but approach the subject with kindness and sensitivity. You might say something like, “I’m worried about you. Is everything okay at home?” If they don’t want to talk, let them know you are there if and when they’re ready. DON’T criticise or slag off their partner, even if they do. They may come to resent you, especially if they are hoping that things will change.
However unlikely their story sounds, or however much you like their partner, the fear of not being believed holds back hundreds, probably thousands of people from disclosing every year. Imagine summoning the courage to tell someone and not being believed.
Never blame them or ask them what they did to trigger the abuse. Don’t make them feel guilty or stupid for putting up with it for so long or not being ready to leave.
Don’t tell them what to do:
In your desire to help, remember not to take the place of the controller. People need to come to their own conclusions in their own time. Making such big decisions can be frustratingly slow for friends and family but try to move at their pace.
If you think that an adult, child or members of the public are at significant risk of harm, please share this information with someone. This might feel like a breach of trust, but remember adults and children are assaulted, hospitalised and murdered every week. You can contact your local social services, talk to the police, or report anonymously to CRIMESTOPPERS on 0800 555 111.
Help them plan:
A good plan can make the difference between someone leaving for good, and someone who gives up and returns to the abuse. Help them plan, in small steps, what they need to do, where they can go, and who can help. Be part of their plan. National or local domestic abuse helplines can offer advice. The most dangerous time is when someone is planning to leave or just after leaving.
Leave the door open:
People accept help in their own time. If they are not ready to take action now, let them know they can come to you in future when they are ready.
Be a friend:
Most importantly, be a friend and never give up on them, even if they try and push you away.
There are local and national services that can help. Try searching domestic abuse on your county council website. NCDV can obtain an emergency civil protection order if this is required. Please see our website for contact and referral information https://www.ncdv.org.uk/
National Training Manager