How can Family and Friends help?
Have you seen or heard something that makes you believe that a friend, neighbour or any other person is in danger RIGHT NOW? If so you should call the police immediately on 000. You are able to remain anonymous so no one will know that you have called.
Instances of Domestic and Family Violence in Australia are widespread, so it is highly likely that someone that you know may be affected. We know that just over half of those affected by domestic and family violence seek help, which means that there are many that do not. There are a number of signs that may indicate domestic and family violence is occurring in a relationship. This could be:
- withdrawal from interaction with family and friends
- loss of confidence, anxious or depressed
- changes to behaviour or routine
- hiding of injury by wearing clothing not suitable for the weather conditions (eg long sleeves in summer)
- provide unlikely explanation for injuries
- hesitant to leave children with partner or others
- suspect that they are being followed or watched
- have limited access to money or bank accounts
- appear to be controlled or afraid to make decisions without consultation of partner
It is hard to know what to do if you suspect that Domestic and Family Violence is occurring in a friend or family member’s relationship however, there are a number of things may cause you concern.
Red Flags are risk factors that may indicate increased risk:
- is there a history of domestic and family violence?
- is there a history of sexual violence?
- has the violence become more regular or more severe?
- are there threats of harm by a party to the other or themselves?
- are there children in the relationship?
- is there a pregnancy or new baby?
- is there a history of physical violence, substance abuse or mental illness?
- is there access to weapons?
- has or is one party planning to leave the relationship?
- are there issues with child custody or access to children?
Having a Conversation
A victim of domestic and family violence may not know where to obtain support. They might feel embarrassed or frightened talking to a friend or family member about what is happening in their relationship. They may become defensive or deny anything is occurring. They may not understand that what is occurring is domestic and family violence. There are many reasons for this. So what is the best way to support someone that you suspect may be exposed to domestic and family violence?
An open, supportive relationship without fear of judgement may encourage a victim to feel comfortable discussing a domestic and family violence situation. As with any difficult conversation, finding a safe and comfortable place free from distraction to raise the subject is important. Open the conversation generally without accusations. You might ask a question such as ‘you don’t seem your happy self at the moment, are you ok?’ If this does lead to conversation:
- actively listen to what the person is telling you, let them tell you their story without interrupting
- let them know that you believe them, are supportive of them and that it is not their fault
- discuss their safety and that of children and pets, if necessary discuss developing a safety plan (see our Staying Safe page)
- explore support options with them or for them but allow them to make their own decisions on what actions they may take
- do not be critical or judgemental of them – respect the decisions that they make even if you do not agree with them
- consider your safety – do not put yourself in a situation where you may be at risk of harm
The Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research has produced information on supporting a friend who has been the victim of sexual violence. Access the information card here.
For more information, visit these sites: