Domestic abuse comes in lots of different forms and supporting somebody who has survived this abuse can be extremely hard. It’s more than just hearing about what they went through, it’s about understanding the complex path they have walked. Abuse can lead to a mix of tough emotions and the healing journey is not easy.

Having a better understanding of Domestic Abuse will help support your loved one or friend.
Things to consider when providing support:

Trauma bonding: This is when survivors feel a strong emotional tie to the person who hurt them, which can make leaving the situation difficult.
Dissociation: This is a way for survivors to mentally escape from the hurt and trauma they’re facing.
Learned helplessness: This happens when survivors feel like they can’t do anything to change their situation, making them feel trapped.

Even after getting out of the abusive relationship, survivors might still face emotional challenges that can last for a long time.

Here are some practical tips and advice for providing support:

Listen Actively: Create a safe and non-judgmental space where your friend feels comfortable sharing their experiences. Practice active listening by maintaining eye contact, nodding, and paraphrasing what they’ve shared to show understanding.

Validate Their Feelings: Let your friend know that their feelings are valid and understandable. Avoid minimizing their experiences or offering unsolicited advice. Instead, affirm their emotions and reassure them that they are not alone.

Encourage Boundaries: Support your friend in setting boundaries with their abuser, if they are still in contact, or in maintaining no contact if they have chosen to leave the relationship. Respect their decisions and offer assistance in creating safety plans if needed.

Provide Practical Assistance: Offer concrete support, such as helping them find resources for counselling, legal aid, or housing if they are seeking to leave the abusive situation. Offer to accompany them to appointments or assist with everyday tasks if they feel overwhelmed.

Be Patient and Persistent: Recovery from domestic abuse is a gradual process, and remember healing takes time. Be patient with your friend and continue to offer support even if they seem hesitant or resistant at times. Let them know that you are there for them whenever they are ready to talk or seek help.

Take Care of Yourself: Supporting a friend through domestic abuse can be emotionally taxing. Make sure to prioritise self-care and seek support for yourself if needed. Set boundaries to prevent burnout and practice self-compassion.

By implementing these practical tips and advice, you can offer meaningful support to your friend or loved one as they navigate their journey towards healing and recovery from domestic abuse. Your presence and empathy can make a significant difference in their lives and empower them to reclaim their sense of self and well-being.