The signs of domestic abuse may not be as clear as you’d think – abuse can be about controlling someone’s mind and emotions as much as hurting their body.
Domestic abuse can encompass, but is not limited to:
- Physical abuse
- Psychological abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Financial abuse
- Emotional abuse
Signs of domestic abuse
Keep an eye out for things like:
- Excuses for injuries
- Personality changes, like low self-esteem in someone who was always confident
- Constantly checking in with their partner
- Never having money on hand
- Overly worried about pleasing their partner
- Skipping out on work, school, or social outings for no clear reason
- Wearing clothes that don’t fit the season, like long sleeves in summer to cover bruises
If you think a friend, family member or colleague is in an abusive relationship, try telling them that you’re concerned, say why you’re worried and ask if they want to talk to you about it. Let them know you want to help. You don’t have to know all the answers, and the important thing is to break the isolation.
Always prioritise safety – yours and theirs. The abuser won’t appreciate you getting involved so be careful about what you do and where and when you do it – be careful not to intervene personally and ring the police if there is immediate danger.
Support them in whatever decision he or she is currently making about their relationship while being clear that the abuse is wrong. Remember, what you are trying to do is be supportive, not to make them feel judged. It’s not always easy to just leave a relationship.
Stay in contact over time and help your friend, family member or colleague to explore what choices are on offer. Try to focus on their safety rather than the abuser or the relationship. Let them guide you in how best to support them.
Reassure them that the abuse is not their fault and that you are there for them. Remind them of their strengths, challenge them if they put themselves down or blame themselves, praise them for every step they take and let them know they have your support.
In an emergency situation always call 999 for help.
If you are safe, but need to report a crime such as criminal damage, physical violence or sexual violence, call the Police on 101.
If you are experiencing domestic abuse and need support, please get in touch with the Stop Domestic Abuse service, our domestic abuse team, for advice and support on 023 9206 5494 or by email. Our experienced specialist team is on hand to discuss your concerns and needs, 9am – 9pm Monday to Friday and 10am – 6pm weekends and bank holidays. Contact can be by phone or face-to-face in a safe location.