Family Harm: What You Can Do to Help

Many of us, over the course of our lives, will face concerns about someone we know who is in an abusive situation and wonder how we can help.

It may feel difficult to help someone experiencing abuse, however that person needs our continuing support. By reaching out and checking-in, you are performing an important role by keeping communication open and showing that you care.

Victims in violent or harmful households often feel ashamed and isolated, especially if the abuse is occurring at the hands of a family member or partner. There are many reasons why they might stay: emotional, financial, to keep the family together, their age, or because they are too scared to leave or don’t know how. While outsiders might find it hard to understand, the reasons are very real and significant for the individual involved. It is important to let them know that the abuse is not their fault and that there are resources and organisations out there willing to assist them to report the abuse, leave the situation or even seek help for the abuser so they stop.

How can you help?

  • Find a safe place and time to talk about it.

  • Listen and be supportive without being judgmental.

  • Acknowledge the potential danger of their situation.

  • Confirm their experiences, feelings and fears.

  • Provide practical assistance such as transport or childcare.

  • Discuss options for them and help them plan for their safety.

  • Help them to find out what help is available in the community.

  • Respect their process, their timetable, and their decisions.

  • Affirm your support whether they stay in the situation or not.

  • Remind them that no one deserves to be abused for any reason and that there is help available when they are ready.

What is helpful to say?

  • No one deserves to be treated like that.

  • Everyone has the right to be safe.

  • You are not responsible for your abuser’s behaviour.

  • I’m here if you want anything.

  • Thanks for telling me about this.

  • How can I help?

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