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Helping someone who is suffering domestic abuse

There are a number of things you can do to help someone else who is experiencing violence or abuse.

Woman being comforted

Domestic Violence Image

It isn't always easy to spot abuse when it's happening or realise that someone is suffering abuse. You can look out for common signs of abuse and find out where to go for help.

Things you can do to help include:

  • Encourage them to speak (some living with abuse may just be waiting for someone to ask that first question)
    • Ask them to tell you how things are going in their relationship
    • Tell them you are worried about them
  • Listen without judging and be patient
  • Believe them
  • Reassure them; make it clear that you believe that the abuse is not their fault and that it is ONLY the abuser's responsibility
  • Help the person work out what they want to do
  • Make it clear they can seek help and support
  • Let them know they can call Police Scotland on 101 (or 999 in an emergency)
  • Call Police Scotland yourself if you witness or hear an assault
  • Provide help with safety planning
    • Let them know that Women's Aid can help with this
    • Have a code word or signal for danger if calling or visiting
    • Offer to keep important items such as spare key, passports, a pay-as-you-go spare phone or cash
    • If they want to leave help them decide the time and date and have a plan who to call e.g. Women's Aid 

It's not always easy to help and you need to remember that the solutions might not provide a complete or immediate end to the abuse. It is important to remember that a person is often most at risk immediately after they have left their abuser.