How to help someone being abused

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Be aware of the signs

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone. It is often brushed under the carpet by society and minimised by those experiencing it.

It is important to remember that victims may respond very differently to domestic abuse. Some may appear depressed and withdrawn, others may appear agitated and angry. Similarly, perpetrators of domestic abuse will not necessarily fit stereotypes – some will be overtly aggressive and domineering, others may appear concerned, attentive and charming.

It is important to have an awareness of the possibility of domestic abuse and of the signs which might suggest it is taking place. These signs may include both physical signs of violence and/or non-visible indicators:

  • visible bruises or injuries, maybe as a result from choking, punching or from an object. Injuries may be inconsistent with the explanation given
  • attempts to cover up bruises or injuries with heavy makeup or clothing. Clothing may not be consistent with the weather (for example, wearing a scarf during the summer)
  • unplanned or unwanted pregnancies
  • misuse of drugs and/or alcohol (this may be used by the victim as a coping mechanism)
  • eating disorders
  • self-harm, suicide attempts
  • depression
  • frequent/over use of medication
  • missed appointments
  • partner accompanies victim, answers all questions, may appear to be dominant
  • victim appears frightened, ashamed, embarrassed, reluctant to speak or disagree with their partner, avoids eye contact
  • victim has few or no friends, may make excuses not to meet friends/colleagues socially

How you can help

If you think a friend, family member or work colleague is experiencing domestic abuse, there are things you can do to help them: raising the issue, listening, acknowledging the situation, giving support and offering practical help.

Visit the help and support page for a full list of available support services.

Remember to take care of yourself too.