How to respond to some in an abusive relationship – recognise, respond, refer

  • Aim to create a safe & private space to open up a conversation (when children/babies not present)
  • Start the conversation with an observation, such as: “ I am worried about you because I have noticed…. (when I saw you at Shule last night there was a bruise around your eye. You seem quite quiet lately…..)
  • Provide conversational openers, such as “Is anything happening at home that you can share with me? Are you alright? Etc.

When the person is ready to talk, there are 8 guidelines to follow:

  1. Believe what they tell you & reassure them of confidentiality
  2. Focus on how they are feeling & coping
  3. Reassure them that you will not confront their partner
  4. Let them know DFV is not their fault
  5. Focus on them & their children’s safety
  6. Avoid telling them what to do
  7. Let them know you are there for them
  8. Let them know there is help they can access

How to keep the person and the children safe, including confidentiality

Facilitators need to explore the questions:

“Who can I share this information with?”

“Is it ok with you that I speak to, call, refer, etc….

Supporting someone in an abusive relationship

It can be devastating to watch anyone deal with an abusive relationship. It may feel even harder to watch that person leave and return to their partner over and over. It is understandable to be frustrated, angry and upset about this. However, domestic violence is complex, leaving an abusive relationship is not easy- sometimes it isn’t safe. On average it takes survivors of domestic and family violence seven attempts before they have left successfully. This may sound unbelievable to someone who has not experienced abuse, but the reality is leaving domestic violence is complex and there are a multitude of reasons that a person may return to an abusive partner. As hard as this may be in trying to support somebody, leaving permanently often depends on the support a person has around them.

What can you do to help?

  • Seek information about domestic and family violence
  • Show and vocalise your concern
  • Listen with empathy and support their decisions
  • Help them explore options and encourage the small steps
  • Try to stay in regular contact with the person who has been subjected to abuse
  • Don’t put down their partner. Instead say I’ve noticed changes in you and am worried.
  • Refer to DFV services 1800 RESPECT
  • Direct to education or books (Perfect stranger, or See what you made me do)

What is an Active Bystander

A Bystander is someone who observes a conflict or unacceptable behaviour.

It might be something serious or minor, one-time or repeated, but the Bystander knows that the behavior is destructive or likely to make a situation worse.

An Active Bystander does something to make a difference!

An Active Bystander assesses the situation to check out that something needs to be done

An Active Bystander thinks about different options and chooses a safe strategy for responding

How to be an Active Bystander

  1. Notice the behavior is not ok
  2. Use your gut feeling to decide that the behavior is not ok
  3. Ask yourself – “If I was in that situation would I want someone to help me?”
  4. Decide if you have a responsibility to do something – “Can I make a difference here?”
  5. Think about what kind of action you can take to respond to this behavior
  6. Think about others and your safety
  7. Decide whether you choose to respond
  8. Decide whether to act now or later

Bystander Strategies

  • Call the Police
  • Interrupt the violence/behavior
  • Distract the aggressor or the victim
  • Talk privately to the upset person
  • Talk privately to the aggressor
  • Be respectful
  • Personalize it eg “What if someone spoke about your sister or mum like that?”
  • Rationalize it eg “hey mate she’s really drunk, you don’t want to be with her like that, lets get her friends and get out of here”
  • Get help from your friends and intervene as a group if you feel unsafe intervening alone.
  • Refer victim to support services
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