Information For Family & Friends

It can be difficult to acknowledge a friend or relative may be suffering domestic abuse. If you have looked at other pages on this site already, you will know it can happen to anyone - irrespective of age, gender, religion or ethnicity. Whilst your instinct is to help, you may have concerns that it’s none of your business, or that you are ‘taking sides’. This advice is also available in our leaflet.


Signs and Symptoms of Domestic Abuse

Signs someone is experiencing domestic abuse can include :

  • Being or becoming more private - not talking to people, giving out little information about home life, not making friends or withdrawing from friends
  • Anxiety - getting anxious if they are late or delayed, scanning the area, being jumpy, becoming anxious if their partner/family member or carer is present, or speaking of a partner/ex partner with fear
  • Being depressed, nervy or prone to tears, having low self esteem, deferring to their partner or family member if they are present, or appearing fearful of them
  • Changing personality/actions - becoming quieter, withdrawing from the group, no longer taking part in social or family events, becoming isolated
  • Receiving or making frequent calls or texts to their partner updating their whereabouts, activities etc (calls may appear controlling or threatening)
  • Frequent or sudden absences from school, college or work
  • Injuries - they may have a lot of ‘accidents’ at home, have bruising or act as if they have an injury but deny it when you ask


What you can do to help

  • Raise the subject gently and tactfully – say you are concerned and ask if they want to talk about it.  Let them know you want to help – break the isolation.
  • If they do begin to talk, just listen – don’t criticise or judge them.  Let them reach their own decisions, knowing you are there for them.  Remember acknowledging they are experiencing domestic abuse is a big step for anyone to take.
  • Talk to the organisations listed on this website; they can give you advice and guidance how to support the person you are concerned about.
  • Encourage them to seek professional help.  Tell them about this website, and the organisations listed.  If they are a colleague, the HR department can help.
  • Reassure them the abuse is not their fault and you are there for them.  Remind them of their strengths; challenge them if they put themselves down or blame themselves, and praise them for every step they take.
  • Look at the specific pages by 1 in 4 women and the National Domestic Helpline for friends and family for further information.
  • Note that leaving takes a great deal of strength and courage. An abused person can face huge obstacles such as nowhere to go, no money and no-one to turn to for support.  These can increase if children are involved.
  • Agreeing a code word so they can signal if they are in danger.
  • Find out information about local services for them.
  • Offer to keep spare sets of keys or important documents, such as passports, benefit books etc safe so they can be accessed in an emergency
  • Get help for yourself.  You have to be strong if you are going to help them.  Most domestic abuse services can help with any concerns you have and assist with advice on what else you can do to help.

Citizen’s Advice

We provide free, confidential and impartial advice on a range of issue including relationship, money, benefit, housing or employment problems. Search for local centre on-line.

Polish Domestic Violence Helpline

Nowe Życie Bez Przemocy (A new life without violence) is a Polish website with information for victims of domestic violence living in the UK. The main purpose of the helpline is to provide Polish people who experience domestic violence with a confidential contact, which will allow them to talk about their situation in their native language and to obtain information about available help and support. It co-operates with English and Polish organisations and support groups with the aim of referring victims to them. The line is currently open on Tuesdays 10.00 - 12.00 and 13.00 - 15.00 and Wednesdays from 10.00 to 16.00

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National Stalking Helpline

The National Stalking Helpline responds to nearly 3,000 victims of stalking each year. A small team of highly trained staff and volunteers provide – by phone and email – information and guidance on the law, how to report stalking, gathering evidence, staying safe and reducing the risk.

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IDVA Service

Independent Domestic Violence Advisory Service for Luton providing free, independent and confidential support & advocacy for very high risk cases of domestic abuse or those where professional judgement is applied - referrals accepted from all statutory and non statutory agencies. Contact for advice or further details. Secure email address available for referrals.

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Family & Friends Service

Support and information for families and friends of drug and alcohol users.

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