Information for professionals, family and friends.
The majority of women who contact MWSS say that they had heard about the service first from a family member or friend.
Here are some things that indicate that a woman may be experiencing domestic violence:
- She is afraid of her partner or husband
- When it comes to her husband/partner, she always seems to be “walking on eggshells”
- She has unexplained and frequent injuries
- She seems to have little or no control over what goes on in the relationship/family
- She has to account to her husband/partner for money she spends
- She has to account to her husband/partner for her whereabouts
- She has become very isolated from family and friends
- She has stopped going to work/college and social activities
How Can You Help Her to Tell?
- Don’t ignore your intuition. If a woman does not disclose you can ask her again at a later date. Asking more than once increases the likelihood that a woman will tell. Only encourage a woman to tell if you are prepared to listen to her and help her.
- Approach her in an understanding, non-blaming way
- Explain to her that she is not alone and that there are many women like her in the same situation
- Acknowledge that it takes strength to trust someone enough to talk to them about experiencing abuse
- Give her time to talk; don’t push her to go into too much detail if she doesn’t want to
- Tell her that no-one deserves to be threatened or beaten, despite what her abuser has told her. Nothing she can do or say can justify the abuser’s behaviour
Follow up a Disclosure with a Positive Response
- Focus on her safety
- Take the abuse seriously, women who experience domestic violence are often in real physical danger and may be experiencing emotional and sexual abuse.
- The abuser will see any attempts to access safety as a challenge to his control and he may retaliate.
- Remember the most dangerous time for a woman is when she tries to leave. Plan safe strategies (see ‘What is Domestic Violence’ – Safety Planning)
- Never tell a woman or pressurise a woman to do anything.
- Trust that the woman knows best, what is safe and unsafe for her and her children.
- Don’t focus on trying to work out why he abuses her. Focus on what can be done to protect the woman.
- Encourage her to contact MWSS, local Gardai or local Family Resource Centre.
- Be non-judgemental and respect a woman’s decisions. You may not understand or agree with the choices a woman makes but it is important that a woman will not feel judged by you.
- Look after yourself while you are supporting someone through such a difficult and emotional time. Ensure that you do not put yourself or her into a dangerous situation; for example, do not offer to talk to the abuser