Emotional and Practical Support
If the person experiencing the violence tells you about it there are a number of things you can do to support them. They include:
- Listening to what they tell you without judging them.
- Believing what they tell you - remember most people down-play the abuse they are experiencing so in most cases it will be worse than they are describing.
- Acknowledging their fear and taking their concerns seriously.
- Letting them know the abuse is not their fault and that they don’t have to put up with it.
- Asking them what you can do to help them.
- In general, keep what they have told you confidential unless they give you permission to tell others. If, in a crisis, you believe your friend or their children are at immediate risk of harm you can call the police on 000.
Encourage the person to make his or her own decisions. You can help them to
make decisions if they want you too but don’t tell them what to do.
“I took the leap of confiding in someone I worked with ... he generously lent me his spare room for a week while I disappeared from home.” (David, 27).
As well as providing emotional support you may be able to assist in a range of practical ways, including:
- Providing them with, or helping them find, a safe place to stay.
- Accompanying them to the police, legal services or doctor etc.
- Getting information they may need eg how to apply for an AVO, the name of the local Police Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officer etc.
- Looking after important items eg money, documents etc.
- Making notes of what they have told you and record any visible injuries.
Let them know you are doing this and that the information may be useful if
they report the violence.
- Providing a safe place where they can get short-term respite from the abuse for a while.
Providing someone with practical support can help them feel more in control of their situation and better able to make the decision they need to to start taking control of their lives again.