I want to help someone else

I have seen or heard something that concerns me about someone else’s relationship.
I have witnessed an act of violence or abuse against someone in a domestic situation.

How can you help?
Break the silence
If you think that someone may be experiencing domestic or family violence because you have noticed certain signs of abuse or violence in their relationship, you can do something about it. Domestic violence generally happens in the privacy of homes therefore, it can be hard to recognise or identify – even for people experiencing it. Over one third of all women who are currently in an intimate relationship or who have ever had such a relationship will experience violence in their lifetime . Making our communities safe is everyone’s responsibility. People often think it is not their business to interfere but domestic violence will not stop if it remains hidden and is not talked about.
It is really hard to leave a domestic violence relationship and while women might hope that their relationship will change and get better, it will always be really difficult to leave because they will fear what will happen afterwards. She might really need your support.
Offer support
You can help:

  • Offer them ongoing friendship and support
  • Listen to them
  • Believe what they say
  • Don’t judge them
  • Remind them that violence and abuse is a crime, it is never acceptable and is not their fault
  • Respect their right to make their own decisions
  • Help them to find information and support
  • Assist them to create a safety plan (Make a safety plan pdf download)
  • Provide them a safe place for their children and pets or a place to store important documents or items.

Someone who is experiencing domestic violence may have to deal with financial hardship, homelessness, legal complications as well as emotional upheaval and social isolation. You can make a positive difference.


What do I say?
Talking about personal life can be hard, especially if you don’t know them well. Try approaching things by stating facts about what it is that you’ve seen and why you are worried about them. Offer support, not judgement.

Maybe something like:
‘It seems like you were feeling upset about what your partner said to you yesterday. Are you okay with that?’
or ‘How are you feeling about that?’
or ‘I know couples fight, but that crossed over the line. What can I do to help?’
or ‘Does he always treat you like this – I think there are places that help you.’
Violence is never OK!
Sometimes victims of domestic violence will excuse the behavior. They may not be aware that what they are experiencing is neither normal nor acceptable.
Women are not to blame for the violence!

  • Why doesn’t she leave?
  • She loves him
  • There are children who love him
  • She feels she shouldn’t deprive the children of the(ir) father
  • There’s nowhere safe to go
  • She thinks she’ll be alone
  • She believes she wont be able to cope on her own
  • She knows he’ll follow her and maybe hurt her and the kids
  • Women need to be supported and encouraged in making a new life for themselves when they are ready and in a way that is comfortable for them.

(Southern Domestic Violence Action Group, No one Need Live in Fear, The Purple Book – Edition 6 – 2013)


What can you do?
I have witnessed an act of violence or abuse against someone in a domestic situation.
Violence and abuse are criminal acts. In an emergency you can call 000, or to report something you have seen and are concerned about, call 131 444. Remember to provide facts and details.
Domestic violence is everyone’s business.

Mouzos & Makkai, 2004:3, Women’s Experiences of Male Violence: Findings from the Australian Component of the International Violence Against Women Survey (IVAWS), http://aic.gov.au/publications/current%20series/rpp/41-60/rpp56.html