What To Do When Someone Discloses Abuse

Jan 25, 2019

When someone tells you about their experience of family violence, it can be difficult to know what to say, or what actions to take. This guide will explain the best ways that you can help a victim of family violence or abuse and direct you to service providers that can help.

The most important thing to consider in these situations is the safety of the person disclosing the abuse. It’s important to ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing making it safer for the person experiencing family violence?”

The most important thing to consider in these situations is the safety of the person disclosing the abuse. It’s important to ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing making it safer for the person experiencing family violence?”

The first things that you should do when someone tells you about their experience of family violence are:

  • Listen with a non-judgemental attitude
  • Show the person that you believe them and that you take their situation seriously
  • Do not blame the victim of the violence, or make excuses for the person who is abusing them
  • Help them to understand that the violence is not their fault
  • Be supportive, encouraging, open and honest

Keep in mind that not everybody’s experience with family violence will be the same, and that every situation is unique. It also takes a lot of courage and trust to tell someone about family violence, so make sure that you respect and listen to them to maintain their trust.

It’s also important to offer practical support and discuss their options with them. Practical ways that you can help a person experiencing family violence can include:

  • Letting them know about local support services that are available
  • Helping them to get advice and support through these services - listed at the bottom of this page
  • Offering to go with the person to meet with support services
  • Keeping in touch with the person

People experiencing family violence may not want to contact support services, and this decision should be respected. Sometimes a person is just seeking someone to talk to and when discussing options, a victim should feel in control of the situation.

Oftentimes, leaving a violent relationship is when a victim is most at risk of experiencing violence or for the violence to escalate.

Oftentimes, leaving a violent relationship is when a victim is most at risk of experiencing violence or for the violence to escalate.

Other reasons a victim may decline offers of assistance include cultural or religious beliefs, fear, finances, previous experiences with support agencies or fear of losing their children. While you should encourage them to seek support services, it’s important not to force a person to make any decisions and to respect their choices.

NOTE: You may be required by law to report disclosures of violence when children are involved. Contact Tasmania Police on 131 444 (non-emergency) for more information on your obligations.

It can be difficult hearing about another person’s experience with family violence and abuse. After hearing their story, take some time to check in with your feelings and look after yourself.

Specialist Family Violence Services – 24 hour helplines

Tasmania Police (Emergency) 000

Family Violence Response and Referral Line 1800 633 937

Tasmania Police (Local Station for non-emergency) 131 444

1800 RESPECT 1800 737 732

Safe Choices – State wide 1800 806 189

Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm

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Maryam Amiri

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