Helping someone who may be in an abusive relationship
If you are worried about someone you know and need advice on how to safely help her, contact our confidential helpline.
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Are you worried that someone you know may be in a relationship that is abusive or violent?
If you suspect, but are not sure, that someone you know is in an abusive relationship, these are some of the signs to watch for:
- She seems nervous, afraid or ‘jumpy’ around her partner
- She needs to let him know what she’s doing at all times
- She has to give an account of any money she spends
- She doesn’t seem to have time for family and friends anymore
- She has stopped her normal activities
- She may seem to have little money or access to money even when she has a paying job
- Her behaviour has changed and she seems depressed and withdrawn
- She has unexplained physical injuries and bruises
- She says she’s ok even when you suspect she is not
How you can help
Give her opportunities to open up and talk to you. Use open-ended questions like, “I notice you seem quite down, are you okay?” If she is not ready to talk, try again. Let her know that you are there for her if she needs support.
Let her know that you are there for her and want to help, but make sure to let her determine what help or support she needs from you.
Find information about what support is available to her and how she can access it safely. Her partner may be monitoring her phone, email or online activity.
Remain non-judgemental and tell her she is not to blame. There is never a valid reason for domestic abuse. Do not ask her why she doesn’t leave him or pressure her to leave.
Let her make her own decisions. Avoid telling her what to do. She needs to make decisions about her life. Respect her decisions, even when you do not understand or agree with them.
Be patient. Leaving an abusive relationship is a journey, not one step.
If she tells you about her situation, remember her safety is the first priority. And remember you must also protect yourself.
The most dangerous time for a woman is when she is thinking of leaving, or after she leaves an abusive relationship.
Do not tell anyone about what she has disclosed to you unless she asks you to.
Do not confront her partner. This could put her at real risk (and may also pose a risk for you) as her partner could become more violent if he thinks she has told someone about the abuse.
Have a code word she can use when she is in danger but cannot safely say so.