It can be hard to know how to support a friend or loved one who is experiencing domestic abuse. Our first instinct may be to protect her, but intervening directly can be dangerous for them and yourself. However, there are ways you can support them.

If you have noticed any of the red flags of domestic abuse reaching out to your friend or family member is the first step. Leaving a violent partner is a process, not a single act. It takes on average, seven attempts before a woman is able to leave for good.

Remember: if you see or hear an assault, or you are worried your friend might be in an emergency situation, you can call the police on 000.

  • Create a safe space
  • Make sure you speak in private. Make it clear you won’t judge. Only then will they feel safe enough to open up.

Try “You haven’t seemed yourself lately. Is there anything you want to talk about? Is everything OK at home?”

Women; straight, queer or trans are often dismissed. They’re very often told he seems like a nice guy, or a great dad. Trust what they say.

Your friend might blame themselves. Tell them nothing they could do justifies abuse. The perpetrator alone is responsible.

Don’t ask why they have not left or judge their choices. Instead, build their confidence and focus on their strengths.
They may have been deliberately isolated. Say you are there for them, and that there are solutions.
  • Help them find out about their rights and options
  • NSW Domestic Violence Line
    Free call 1800 656 463
    Translating and Interpreting Services: 13 14 50
    TTY 1800 67 14 42
    The Domestic Violence Line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

It might take several tries before they confide in you. Be patient. Recognising the problem is the first step.

Are you, a friend or family member looking for help for a perpetrator of domestic violence or suspect someone is experiencing domestic violence?

Domestic abuse often continues because it remains hidden. Below are some actions you can take to help.

It isn’t easy to accept that someone you love has harmed their partner. If they open up to you about it, don’t assume you’re hearing the full story. There may be more to it than they’re able to admit.

The following pointers might help you support your relative or friend:

  • When someone is violent or abusive they are 100% responsible for their actions, even though they may paint a negative picture of their partner. Try and keep them focused on their own actions, and how they could have handled the situation non-abusively.
  • People who are abusive often try to play down what they did or the impact it had on their partner. Let them know that no matter what, abuse or violence is never okay.
  • When both parties are using violence, it’s rarely of an ‘equal’ nature. One person’s violence doesn’t ‘cause’ or ‘cancel out’ the other’s.
  • Stress, alcohol or drugs do not cause domestic violence. Many people live very stressful lives, drink or use drugs heavily and are never violent.

If it’s safe, you could offer information about the help available:

Men’s Helpline

Anonymous telephone counselling service for men (24 hours a day)
Phone: 1300 789 978

Men’s Referral Service (Vic, Tas and NSW)

Anonymous service for men Monday – Friday, 9am – 9pm
Phone: 1300 766 491

Relationships Australia

Support groups and specialist programs for abusive partners.
Phone: 1300 364 277