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How can I help someone who is experiencing domestic abuse?

If you are concerned that someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, it can be difficult to know what to do but please don’t let that prevent you from addressing it. These guidelines will signpost how you can be supportive.

Throughout this guide we refer to the victim, as ‘she’ as the majority of those experiencing domestic abuse are women, however we encourage supporters of men to also use this guide.

  • Approach the conversation in an open, understanding and non-blaming way.
  • Explain to her your reasons for being concerned.
  • Very often people who are experiencing domestic abuse may not even recognize it as abuse, therefore is vital to be patient and not pressure her.
  • Tell her that she is not alone and does not deserve to be treated this way, despite what the abuser might have said.
  • Acknowledge the strength and courage it takes to talk about her experiences.
  • Allow and respect her to make her own decisions, even if this means she isn’t ready or doesn’t want to leave the relationship.
  • Be aware, that leaving an abusive relationship is the most dangerous time for someone.
  • Ask her what you can do to support her and help her find support services.
  • Go with her as a support to the hospital, if she has injuries; to the Gardaí if she wants to report an assault; or to her solicitor, if she is ready to take that step.
  • Agree a code word that she can use if she is in danger and needs help.
  • If she has children talk to her about their safety and encourage her to seek support for her children.