Talking about abuse can make a huge difference though. Simple conversations can really help reinforce a victim’s sense of identity and self-confidence, two things we know can be hard to come by. Let them talk about the abuse when they want to, listen to them, but allow them to talk about other things as they choose. Remember they were your friend or relative before you ‘knew’ – so let them be free to stay your friend and not just be defined as a ‘victim’.
Finally, if in doubt about what would help, ask them. Countless women we support tell us what a difference it makes being asked what they want, rather than having help ‘imposed’ on them. The journey out of domestic violence can take a long time and involve a whole range of things from the psychological to the practical.
Friends and family can play a vital role in that journey – as they long as they resist the temptation to ‘take over’. Be there for your loved one in whatever way works for them, you’ll be making more of a difference than you’ll ever know. But as Citizens Advice crucially says in its excellent guidance on how to talk about abuse, make sure you consider your safety too https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/campaigns/current_campaigns/talk-about-abuse-campaign/guidance-for-family-and-friends/.
Heidi Riedel, Chief Executive of Woman’s Trust 17 February 2016
- Ashford Domestic Abuse One Stop Shop offers free advice, information and support from a range of agencies under one roof to help victims of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse can affect anyone and therefore, if you are a man or a woman and would like to discuss your issues, you are welcome to attend. No appointment is required just turn up.
The Willow Centre, Brookfield Road, Ashford, Kent TN23 4EY
Telephone: 07598 745044
Opening times: Every Tuesday morning 9.30am – 12.30pm
- Domestic Abuse Support in Kent website, a new resource covering Kent and Medway providing advice and information on services for victims, friends & family, and perpetrators of Domestic Abuse. http://www.domesticabuseservices.org.uk/