Are you concerned about a friend or family member?


Do you think they may be in an abusive relationship? The following are warning signs that someone you know may be being abused:

  • They frequently have bruises or injuries.
  • Their partner appears to make all the decisions for both of them.
  • Their partner exhibits quick and inappropriate anger and/or jealousy.
  • They become unusually quiet or withdrawn.
  • They avoid being around others, show increased fatigue and/or anxiety, a sudden change in weight or appearance. 
  • They receive frequent telephone calls, emails or text messages from their partner checking up on them.
  • They are frequently late or absent from work or unexpectedly quit their job.
  • They stop talking about their partner.
  • They accept blame for all that is uncomfortable in their relationship and become frightened when their partner is angry.
  • They wear concealing clothes even in warm weather.


If you suspect a person you care about is being abused, you can help; in fact your offer of help could make the difference to someone living in an abusive situation.

While there is no right way to help someone, here are important steps to bear in mind:

  • Talk in a safe, private place.
  • Take the time to listen, and believe what you hear.
  • Do not underestimate the danger.
  • Express your concern for the person's safety.
  • Do not expect change overnight; be patient and continue to offer your support.
  • Do not judge or criticise the person's decisions.
  • Don’t make demands on them to make immediate changes as this could alienate them
  • Encourage the person to make his/her own choices, but urge them to talk with someone who knows about domestic abuse.
  • Let the person know that many other people are in abusive situations and tell them about agencies that can help such as Harbour
  • Learn as much as you can about domestic abuse and encourage others to, also.


You need to support your abused friend in whatever decision they make regarding their relationship, while being clear that the abuse is wrong. Your friend needs to be supported throughout and you should maintain contact with them, helping them to explore all the options on offer.

Supporting a friend in this way is a huge challenge. You don't want to see them get hurt, but may have to watch them stay with their partner when you think they should leave. As their friend, make sure you offer them something the abuser doesn't. For example, if the abuser tells them what to do all the time, it's no use you doing the same.