In celebration of NAIDOC Week 2018, we asked Young Canberra Citizen of the Year, 2018…
Statistically, it is likely you know someone who has been impacted by domestic or family violence.
There is a good chance you know someone whose life is currently being impacted. But are you confident to know what to say, what to do or where to turn?
“We know that most people who are affected by domestic and family violence will first turn to family, friends or colleagues for support,” says Domestic Violence Crisis Service Chief Executive Officer, Sue Webeck.
“What you say or do can be vitally important to helping that person feel safe and supported and able to make decisions about what to do next.”
It’s important you remember to check how the person is feeling and understand each person is different and may require different supports.
Not everyone wants to leave a violent relationship, and it’s important you respect that decision. And in the event they do want to leave the relationship, it’s important they reach out to a specialist service like DVCS to seek out supports and information.
“It’s really important you don’t ‘have a word’ with the person using violence. We know this can seem helpful and like the right thing to do, but in reality, it could actually put people at further risk and has the potential to shut down any further communication,” says Sue.
Sue says some important things to remember are:
- Listen – it’s important to listen, without judgment and without interrupting
- Believe – it’s vitally important you believe what they are saying. You might say something like “I’m sorry to hear this” or “I’m glad you’ve told me”
- Be available – sometimes they might start and then come back at another time. You might say something like “I want to support you, so when you’re ready, let’s chat more”
- Ask about their feelings – remember to ask them how they are feeling and validate their feelings. You might say something like “This must be hard for you” or “How do you feel about all of this?”
- Refer – if appropriate, ask them if they want to reach out to a support service such as DVCS. You might say something like “Would you like to speak to a specialist? Maybe we could call them together?”
Sometimes you might be worried a friend, family member or colleague is experiencing domestic and family violence. This can be difficult to approach. You might notice they:
- Seem afraid of their partner or is always anxious to please them
- Have become anxious, depressed, withdrawn or lost confidence
- Say their partner is jealous, possessive or has a bad temper
- Have bruises, sprains or cuts on their body
- Say their partner continually phones or texts them
- Are reluctant to leave their children with their partner
- Are harassed or followed after they have left the relationship
If you are worried about someone you care about and want to check on them, it’s important you support them.
“Waiting for a private moment to chat and saying something like ‘I’ve noticed you’ve not been yourself lately’ is always a good start,” says Sue.
“If they don’t open up, please don’t push them. Just letting them know you care enough to ask might encourage them to come back when they do feel ready to share.”
It’s important to remember to look after yourself too. Hearing about someone else’s experience of violence can be difficult.
“DVCS welcomes calls from support people too. We can debrief with you, give you tips and provide guidance on how you can provide the possible support to friend, family member or colleague” says Sue, “You don’t need to tell us your name or the name of the person you are supporting.”
The Domestic Violence Crisis Service is an inclusive service supporting children, young people and adults impacted by domestic and family violence.
DVCS is a non-government organisation providing 24/7 crisis intervention, safety planning, access to emergency accommodation, legal advocacy, support groups, post-crisis support to women, children and their families, education and training and a behavioural change program for men.
If you or someone you know are impacted by domestic or family violence, we encourage you to reach out to DVCS on their 24/7 phone line of 62 800 900 or via their website: www.dvcs.org.au.