If a person experiencing domestic violence tells you about it, it’s important to acknowledge to yourself and them that it is a big deal to be trusted. There are a number of things you can do to support them, if you feel you are able. They include:

  • listening to what they tell you without judging them;
  • believing what they tell you. Remember most people downplay 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, they don’t deserve it and that they don’t have to put up with it;
  • asking them what you can do to help them; and
  • make sure you help them at their pace, not yours. It can be easy to rush in and tell your friend what they should do, this is generally not helpful.

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 imminent risk of harm call the police on 000.

Encourage the person to make their own decisions. You can help them to make decisions if they want you to but don’t tell them what to do.

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 e.g. how to report to police or apply for an ADVO, the name and contact number of the local police station and Domestic Violence Liaison Officer (DVLO);
  • giving them the contact details of services that might be able to assist them with reporting the violence and abuse; 
  • looking after important items such as their money and documents etc;
  • recording what they have told you and any visible injuries, along with any text or social media messages they send you. Let them know you are doing this and that the information may be useful if they report the violence; or
  • 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 decisions they need to, to start taking control of their lives again.