Worried About Someone? Help Her Tell!
One in five women in Ireland experience violence and abuse in their relationships. If you suspect a woman is experiencing domestic violence – you can help her to tell!
Here are some things that may indicate that a woman is experiencing domestic violence….
- She is afraid of her partner or husband
- When it comes to her husband / partner she always seems to be “walking on eggshells” afraid of how he will react or what he will say.
- She has unexplained and frequent physical injuries.
- She seems to have little or no control over what goes on in the relationship or family.
- She blames herself all the time for difficulties in the marriage / relationship.
- She has to account to her husband / partner, all the time, for the money she spends.
- She has to account to her husband /partner for her whereabouts.
- She has become isolated from her family and friends and has stopped going to work, college and social activities
- She is depressed or anxious a lot of the time
How can you help her to tell ?
Approach the subject sensitively by asking questions based on your concern, such as:
- I notice you seem really down, how are things at home?
- You seem really anxious, is there anything you need help with?
If you are certain a woman is being abused, you may be able to ask more direct questions, such as:
- You seem to be afraid of your partner. A lot of women experience abuse in relationships, is this happening to you?
- You told me your partner / husband always needs to get his own way. What happens when you disagree with him?
- Are there ever times when you are frightened of your husband / partner?
Don’t ignore your intuition.
If a woman does not disclose you can ask her again at a later date. Asking more than once increases the likelihood that a woman will tell. However, only encourage a woman to tell if you are prepared to listen to her and to help her.
Follow up a disclosure with a positive response.
Focus on her safety.
Take the abuse seriously, women who experience domestic violence are often in real physical danger and may be experiencing emotional and sexual abuse. The abuser will see any attempts to access safety as a challenge to his control and he may retaliate. Remember the most dangerous time for a woman is when she tries to leave. Never tell or pressurise a woman to do anything. Trust that the woman knows best what is safe and unsafe for her and her children.
Never talk to anyone about what the woman has told you, unless you have her permission.
Tell the woman SHE IS NOT TO BLAME. The abuser will have told the woman that she causes his behaviour. Shame often prevents women from getting support and safety.
BE NON-JUDGEMENTAL and respect a woman’s decisions. You may not understand or agree with the choices a woman makes but it is important that a woman will not feel judged by you.
Don’t focus on trying to work out why he abuses her. Focus on what can be done to protect the woman. Give her information about a domestic violence service. Never let the abuser know the woman has told you what is happening.