You may be worried that a friend or family member is experiencing abuse in their relationship.

It can be very difficult for someone who is experiencing family violence to seek help. Most women tell a family member or friend in the first instance, rather than calling a family violence service or the police. You can make a great difference to someone who is experiencing family violence by offering your encouragement and support.

This Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria booklet Is someone you know being abused in a relationship? A guide for families, friends and neighbours is available for free download in 13 community languages.

The 1800RESPECT website has more information about supporting a family member or friend who may be experiencing violence.

Why doesn’t she just leave?

Leaving might seem like a simple solution from the outside, but there are many reasons why someone stays in an abusive relationship.

Among other reasons, women experiencing family violence might stay because:

  • Post separation is the time of greatest danger for women and children. Often women stay because they fear that, if they try to leave, they or their children may be seriously harmed or killed.
  • She may still care for or love her abuser and hope he will change
  • She blames the violence on external factors (alcohol, stress, etc.) or herself and thinks that if these factors stop, so will the abuse
  • She may have little confidence in her ability to make it on her own, or feel powerless as a result of the abuse
  • She may not have practical means of survival (money, transport, housing) independent of her family or partner.

It is important that a woman is not blamed for not being ready to leave. Supporting her emotionally and practically can still be very helpful.