How to help someone who is being subjected to violence

Many women experiencing domestic violence cope with it alone. While they may develop arange of strategies to protect themselves and limit the impact of the violence, many do not seek any outside help — they tell nobody at all. When they do disclose the situation to a family member or friend, the response they get is often critical in determining how, and whether, they will proceed further.

Violence against women is under-reported, and statistics show that a victim of violence is more likely to discuss and disclose their experience to a friend or family member than to the police or another public authority.

It is important to know where to refer people and how to deal with people telling you about their experience.

If someone starts talking to you, some simple advice includes:

  • Find a safe/quiet space to talk
  • Listen – this may be the first time she has spoken about the experience
  • Have a non-judgmental attitude
  • Believe the woman’s story
  • Reassure her that it is not her fault
  • Hold the perpetrator responsible for the violence and abuse
  • Provide emotional and practical support
  • Support the woman’s choices
  • Do not be overly directive.

For friends and families there is a very useful website that suggests what you can do and how you can help a friend or family member who is experiencing domestic violence:

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