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Would you know what to do if your friend was subjected to domestic or family violence?

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Most people who are experiencing domestic or family violence will first turn to family, friends or colleagues for support.

What you say or do after disclosure is incredibly important. Your support and encouragement can assist them to feel supported and more able to make decisions.

During the isolation of COVID, many people are not able to access their regular supports or safe places to seek out help. It is common for people to engage support services while at work or at other places where they felt safe.

For many, those safe places are now not possible to access, so the Domestic Violence Crisis Service (DVCS) noticed a change in how people were engaging with them.

“DVCS experienced a 47% increase in electronic contacts such as email, text message, online chat and social media from March to August. We also experienced a 310% increase in the number of anonymous clients contacting us in April compared to March. Anonymous clients tend to be clients who are reaching out to us for the first time,” says Glenda Stevens, Interim General Manager of the DVCS.

When someone discloses they are experiencing domestic or family violence it is important you:

  1. Believe them. You might say something like “I’m really sorry this is happening to you” or “I believe you.”
  2. Validate them. You might say something like “Thank you for telling me” or “Thank you for trusting me with this”
  3. Support them. “How can I help you?” or “Is there anything I can do to support you?”
  4. Refer them. “Have you considered speaking to the DVCS about what’s happening?” or “Have you spoken to your GP/counsellor about what’s happening?”

It’s important to recognise that not everyone wants to leave violent relationships, it is common for people to want to stay in the relationship, but want the violence to end.

“Here at DVCS we often work with people who don’t want to leave their relationship. We respect their decision and work with them to keep them safe within that relationship,” says Glenda.

“Additionally, it’s not uncommon for someone to make multiple attempts to leave a violent relationship. There are many, many reasons why people don’t want to leave violent relationships or make multiple attempts. Those reasons are varied and often very complex. We are here for anyone, regardless of where they are on their journey to a life free from violence and abuse.”

A normal reaction to finding out a loved one is being subjected to violence is to offer to ‘have a word with’ the person using violence.

“We strongly encourage people not speak to the person using violence,” says Glenda. “Often this can increase the risk and can make the situation more dangerous. If you are concerned about someone, we encourage you to contact us.”

“We often speak to people who are worried about a friend, family member or colleague and are happy to provide support and guidance.”

The DVCS website is a great resource of information about the dynamics of domestic and family violence and provides a range of hints and guidance on how you can support someone who is impacted by domestic and family violence.

DVCS holds regular training sessions for members of the community about the dynamics of domestic and family violence and how you can provide support to someone.

These training sessions are also suitable for those working in health, education, community sector, management and human resources. Their final training for 2020 will be held in October. Bookings are essential and a few places still remain.

DVCS is an inclusive service supporting children, young people and adults impacted by domestic and family violence, including those who use violence. DVCS provide crisis intervention and counselling, safety planning, legal advocacy, access to emergency accommodation, support groups, support to young people and their families, support to women post-crisis and support to men who want help to stop their use of violence and controlling behaviour.

DVCS can be contacted on:

 

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