How you can help someone suffering domestic abuse

If you suspect something is going on, here’s what to do…

What can you do to help someone you think is suffering from domestic violence or abuse? 

A CCTV video released today shows the shocking impact of domestic violence.

Thankfully, most of us will not have to deal with the consequences of such an attack, but we are all more likely to be the neighbour, the friend or the person in the next room who overhears or sees something happening we know is wrong and want to stop.

Often, speaking up can be hard to do, so what are the steps you should take if you suspect someone in being victimised.

What is domestic violence?

The definition of domestic violence from the Government says it is ‘any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.’

It can include physical or mental abuse, controlling or taking a person’s money, emotional abuse and mind games or online abuse through trolling.

Both men and women can be victims of domestic abuse and it happens in same-sex relationships too. It can also continue after a relationship is over.

Recognising domestic violence

In some cases it will be self evident, but in others what is happening may not be immediately apparent. Here are some of the signs to look out for.

1) The person starts to wear clothes that cover up more of their body, or has injuries that they struggle to explain.

2) The person withdraws from their circle of friends or family, cancelling plans or making excuses to stay away

3) They become quieter and more withdrawn, possibly giving up their plans they had previously discussed

4) If you see them on their own, they receive lots of texts of phone calls from the abuser, that they always answer. They can be about what they are doing, who they are with and when they will be back.

 5) They follow rules set down by the abuser about what they can do and when, and who they can see.

What you can do

Taking to step to support your friend or family member over what you think is happening can be daunting, especially if the person in the relationship does not want your help.

However you can talk to them in a way that shows your concern for the situation, and in a place that is secure and safe – for instance by mentioning you haven’t seen the person much lately or that they seem to be upset.

If a person starts to talk about the abuse, listen and be supportive and open minded. if they choose not to, let them know they can talk to you about anything and remain supportive.

For more information about how to report domestic violence or to seek specialist support call the confidential 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247 .

This helpline is free and run in partnership by Refuge and Women’s Aid.

Victim Care Merseyside can also offer support at

People can also call Merseyside Police on 101 or if they are in immediate danger call 999.