Information for friends, family and work colleagues who are worried about someone suffering from domestic abuse
What is domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse can be physical, sexual, financial, emotional, psychological. A person is being abused if they are scared to be themselves or they don’t do things because they fear what their partner might do.
Here are some examples of domestic abuse and signs someone is in an abusive relationship: -
Physical – hitting, kicking, pushing, biting, strangling. You may notice bruises or other injuries and they may lie about how they received them
Sexual – forcing them to make unwanted videos or photos of a sexual nature, rape
Financial – Controlling their finances, not allowing them to have any money or a job
Emotional – calling the person nasty names, making them feel they are useless and can’t do anything right. Partner withholds affection.
Psychological - The person may be very scared, nervous or distracted. The abuser can make threats to harm the person, making them scared to go anywhere or do anything.
Anyone can experience domestic abuse. It happens to women and men; young and older people; straight and LGBTQ and people of all ethnicities and religion. Some victims may be at higher risk e.g. those who need help to care for themselves.
Signs that an adult is experiencing domestic abuse:
- You may notice that their appearance has changed
- They are less confident or behave differently when their partner is there
- They may cancel plans/spend less time with you
- If they are out with you, they may receive texts or calls from their partner all the time they are with you and may need to leave suddenly
- They may be taking more time off sick from work than usual
- They may be more tearful, angry, anxious, confused and feeling low
- They may have physical injuries
- They may give excuses for frequent injuries
- They may be using different ways to cope with the abuse e.g. increased alcohol or drug use
Signs that a child is witnessing domestic abuse include:
- Bullying or aggression towards others
- Nightmares, trouble sleeping or insomnia
- Constant or frequent sickness (e.g. headaches, colds)
- Anti-social behaviour (e.g. vandalism)
- Problems in school
- Drug or alcohol use
- Attention seeking
- Anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts
If you are worried about a child’s safety, report it to any of these people:
- School staff
- Health Visitor
- Children’s Social Care
If you think a child is in immediate danger and needs help urgently call the police on 999
Here are some examples of signs someone is in a controlling relationship:
- They blame themselves for the abuse and feel it’s their fault
- The person has said their partner is jealous and controlling
- They aren’t visiting you or their friends or coming to the usual planned family gatherings or work events they would normally attend
- They are always picked up and dropped off wherever they go, and the partner gets angry if the person is late
- They don’t call you or they don’t call you as much as they used to and there isn’t a good reason
- They must ‘check in’ with their partner at specific times
- They aren’t using social media e.g. Facebook as often as they would do normally and there isn’t a good reason why.
A person experiencing domestic abuse may:
- feel like everything is their fault and they are walking on eggshells waiting for something to happen
- be scared that they and their children aren’t safe
- think that if they change for their partner the abuse will stop
- still love their partner and hope they will change
It may take the person a long time before they will talk to you about what they are experiencing. They may not know what to say or how to describe what they are feeling - give them time to open up.
What you can do to give support:
- If you are worried about someone you could say “I am worried about you because….’’ or “I am worried about your safety’’
- Believe what they are saying and
- Build their confidence
- Encourage them to make decisions at the right time for them
- (if safe to do so) report anything that happens to their GP or the police.
Try not to:
- Tell them what to do
- Get in the middle of the relationship or mediate for them
- Put pressure on them to leave the relationship
It can be a dangerous time for a victim and their children when they leave an abusive relationship.
Practical things you can do to help:
- Offer to keep a set of keys, important documents such as passports, benefit books, a set of clothes and money in case the person needs to leave quickly
- If the person has been hurt offer to go to the hospital with them, to their GP or another professional they can talk to, like a counsellor
- Help them to talk/visit Women’s Aid to find out how they can help
Organisations who can help:
Always call 999 in an emergency.
Black Country Women’s Aid / Refuge
Support men and women experiencing domestic abuse including forced marriage and so called honour based abuse.
0121 553 0090 or 0121 552 6448
Text or WhatsApp: 07384 466181
For men and boys who have experienced domestic abuse, rape and sexual abuse contact Ask Marc 0121 289 6402, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit askmarc.org.uk for more information.
West Midlands Forced Marriage
24hr helpline to support victims of Forced Marriage and Honour-based Abuse.
0800 953 9777
National Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 2000 247
Childline 0800 1111
Rape Crisis England and Wales 0808 802 9999
Sandwell Children’s Trust
People concerned about a child who may be a victim of forced marriage or honour-based abuse should contact Sandwell Children’s Trust on 0121 569 3100.
Adult Social Care
Those concerned about an adult with care and support needs should contact Adult Social Care on 0121 569 2266.
Birmingham LGBT can also provide a range of support services for LGBT victims of domestic abuse.
For more information please go to www.sandwell.gov.uk/domesticabuse