Eight myths about domestic violence:
1. Alcohol and drugs make men violent.
2. It only happens in poor families.
3. More women would leave if the abuse was that bad.
4. Abusers grow up in violent homes.
5. Some women like violence.
6. Abusive men have a mental illness.
7. He only hit her because he was under stress.
8. Domestic violence is a private matter, you shouldn’t get involved.
Ten tips to helping a friend who is experiencing domestic violence:
1. The top priority is to make sure they are safe.
2. Be understanding. Explain that others are in this situation. Acknowledge that it takes strength to trust someone enough to talk about the abuse. Allow them time to talk, and don’t push them to give too much detail if they don’t want to.
3. Do not criticize the abuser as it will put the person off telling you anymore.
4. Be supportive. Be a good listener, and encourage them to express their hurt and anger.
5. Let them make their own decisions. If they aren’t ready to leave the relationship, this is their decision.
6. Ask if they have suffered physical harm. Offer to go with them to hospital if they need to go. If they want to report the assault to the police, help them to do this.
7. Give them information on the help which is available. Look at the options together. Go with them to visit a solicitor if they are ready to take this step.
8. Help them work out a safety plan for leaving the relationship.
9. Offer to let them use your address and phone number for receiving information and messages.
10. Above all, do not put yourself in a dangerous position. Do not offer to talk to the abuser about your friend, or let the abuser see you as a threat to their relationship.
Ten steps to leaving safely:
1. Make sure you have access to a phone.
2. Have a small bag packed in case you need to leave in an emergency with an extra set of keys, money, important documents and clothes.
3. Teach your children how to keep safe and dial 911. If you leave, always try to take them with you.
4. Report all injuries to the police and to your doctor.
5. If possible tell a neighbour about the abuse and ask them to call the police if they hear a disturbance.
6. If you think a violent incident is about to occur try to move to a low risk space with no access to weapons, a soft floor covering and escape route.
7. If possible leave when your abuser is not around or when it is safe to do so and think about your exit routes.