What can you do to help?

You may be unsure if your friend or relative is being abused. Maybe you just have a sense that something is 'wrong' in her relationship. There may not be any obvious signs of abuse.

Approach your friend or relative in a sensitive way. Tell her you are worried about her and explain why. Don't push her into talking if she is uncomfortable, but let her know that you are there is she needs to talk. She may not be ready to admit to being abused, or may feel embarrassed, ashamed or afraid to talk about it.

If she feels supported and encouraged, she may feel stronger and more able to make decisions. The most important thing you can do is to listen without judging, respect her decisions, and help her to find ways to stay safe and become stronger. How you respond and your support can make a big difference.

You could also help her to protect herself. You could:

  • Help her plan where she and the children could go in an emergency, or if she decides to leave.
  • Help her to prepare an excuse so she can leave quickly if she feels threatened.
  • Agree on a code word or signal that she can use to let you know she needs help.
  • Help her to prepare an "emergency bag" of her belongings, and hide it in a safe place. This may include money, keys, clothes, banks cards, drivers licence, medication, birth certificates and any other important documents for herself or her children.
  • Family violence and abuse is a violation of human rights and is never acceptable in any form, in any community or culture.