Is someone you know suffering?

There are many reasons why a person does not leave an abusive relationship.  As a friend or family member it is important for us to understand this

  • they may still love and care about their partner.  Some people want the relationship to continue but the abuse to stop.
  • they may feel ashamed about the abuse and may believe that it is their fault.
  • they may be too worried about what the future holds:
    • where they will live
    • what they will do for money
    • whether they will have to hide forever 
    • whether they will be found
  • they may not know who to go to or who to trust to help them to leave
  • as a result of the abuse they may not have enough self confidence and self esteem to make any decisions
  • they may believe that for the sake of the children it is better to stay in the relationship 
  • they may have become isolated from friends and family and have no way of asking for help 
  • they may not have any money

What can you do to help?

  • listen without interrupting and try not to given an opinion 
  • do not try and take control of the situation, ask what they want to do
  • understand if they decide that this is not the time for them to do anything.  When they feel strong enough they will
  • try not to become frustrated if they leave the relationship and go back soon after.  Research has shown that on average it takes a woman 7 attempts to leave an abusive relationship.

If they are thinking of leaving you can help.

The best way to leave an abusive relationship is to make a plan to leave.  If a plan is made and carried through the chances of getting away safely is increased.  You can help them with this. See page Safety Plan ( can we link through to advice and guidance)

How are children affected?

They may:

  • feel scared, confused, and guilty believing that arguments and abuse is taking place because of them
  • be destructive towards their toys and other property
  • be tearful
  • display anger and become violent towards their family members and friends
  • become withdrawn, lose their self confidence and their self esteem
  • lose their concentration at school, have poor levels of achievement and be seen to display/express difficult behaviour
  • refuse to go to school because they want to “keep an eye on” what is happening at home.  This is because they feel a responsibility to protect the parent who is being abused
  • isolate themselves from friends because they are trying to protect the ‘secrets’ at home
  • be harmed whilst trying to protect another family member

and in some cases may:

  • develop stress-related illnesses, such as bed wetting, skin disorders and eating problems
  • turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of escaping their feelings 
  • self harm such as cutting, burning themselves and pulling their hair out
  • run away from home
  • commit or attempt to commit suicide

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