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Council Services:

How you can help

If you think a friend, family member or work colleague is suffering domestic abuse, there are things that you can do to help.

Friends and family members may believe that they should remain ‘neutral’, in a domestic abuse situation, but the abused person can see this as them ignoring the abuse. The abuser can see it as evidence that their behaviour is acceptable. It is also important to recognise that any children within the family, may be witnessing the abuse or may be directly involved. Children should never be placed at risk, and their needs and safety should never be ignored. You may not be able to help immediately because they need to spend time thinking about the whole situation but it’s important you are readily available to provide some form of support when it’s required.

FFWC Poster Male Dec 2015 imageFriends, Family&Work Colleague LeafletFFWC Poster Female Dec 2015 image

 

What is Domestic Abuse?

Domestic abuse is not just an argument, a fall out or two people not getting along. It is a pattern of power and control and manipulation of someone they are supposed to love and care about. This can include, but is not limited to the following types of abuse:
- Controlling behaviour, is a range of acts designed to make a person feel inferior to the other partner to lower their self-esteem, by belittling them and making them feel stupid or even that they have a mental health issue. They may make the person dependant on them financially or physically by isolating them from sources of support i.e. family or Doctor, maybe stopping them from working or having their own bank account. Regulating their everyday behaviour, by not allowing them out of the house without them being present. If they do go out, the abuser may keep asking them who they are with and what they are doing, not allowing the individual to wear what they wish.
- Coercive behaviour, which is an act or pattern of acts of assault, threats of assault, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten the person they are abusing. Sometimes they may never be physically assaulted but the threat to hurt someone is enough to intimidate someone into fearing that person. They may threaten to take the children away and use this to frighten the person into submitting to what they say.
- Stalking or harassment - such as obsessively following a person, appearing at that person’s home or workplace unwanted, repeatedly making unwanted phone calls, unwanted texts and emails.

Types of Domestic Abuse

Psychological/Emotional

Intimidation, insulting, isolating a person from friends and family, criticising, denying abuse, treating a person as inferior, threatening to harm children or take them away, forced marriage. Undermining a persons confidence, making racist remarks, making a person feel unattractive, calling them stupid or useless, eroding their independence, threatening suicide if the person leaves them.

Sexual

Forced sex/Rape, forced into prostitution, ignoring religious prohibitions about sex, refusal to practice safe sex, sexual insults sexually transmitted infections, preventing breastfeeding, forced to be filmed or photographed naked.

Physical

Shaking, smacking, punching, kicking, grabbing and biting, starving, tying up, stabbing, suffocation, throwing things, using objects as weapons, female genital mutilation, ‘honour violence’.

Financial

Not letting a person work, undermining their efforts to find work or study, refusing to give them money, asking for an explanation of how every penny is spent, making them beg for money, gambling, not paying bills.

Help & Support

If you know someone who is experiencing any of the above mentioned in this leaflet there is support for them locally. Tell them they are NOT to blame for any of this behaviour and that they CAN get emotional support for themselves and any children they may have.

Why people stay in abusive relationships

As a family member, friend or colleague you may have wondered why the person has shared with you they are in an abusive relationship but not left the relationship.

Most people start a relationship being in love with that other person, those experiencing abuse may still have feelings for them and want the relationship to continue, they may feel that the other person may change and things will ‘go back to what they used to be like’, they may have children with that person and don’t want to break the family up, they may not have the strength to leave the relationship or confidence to leave.
They may not have the finances to leave the relationship; they may be scared of what to expect if they leave as they have been in that situation for so long.

The person abusing them may not be their partner, it could be their adult or teenage child; parent or sibling; carer who is also a family member for example, and the bond between them could make it harder to leave that relationship. They may have pets that they are unsure what to do with if they move properties.

The list of reasons is endless and even if you do not understand them you still have to try to empathise with that person and help them the best you can.


Practical support you can offer

  • Approach the issue in a sensitive and caring way, say something like ‘I am worried about you because……’ and ‘how can I help?’
  • Let them know that you are concerned and want to support and help them [not advise].
  • Believe what they tell you.
  • Do not be judgmental or expect them to make a sudden decision. Support them do not judge them.
  • Help them with practical things like being a babysitter, if safe to do so, so they can attend appointments with professionals; offer them an excuse to leave the house so they can have a respite from the abuse; be a taxi or offer them money so they can get to appointments. This will allow them to get the specialised support they need and see you as reinforcing that they are believed.

Other practical help could be around pets. Offer to take the pet for them if they are wanting to leave the abuser but can’t take the pet with them or if they can’t take the pet with them and you are unable to take the pet contact the RSPCA’s PetRetreat Scheme. Tel: 0300 123 8278 or 07715 54018, or see downloadable leaflet below. http://www.rspca.org.uk/whatwedo/petretreat

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  • Take the abuse seriously. The fear of the abuse can be very damaging, both physically and emotionally and is very destructive to a person's self-confidence and self-esteem.
  • The importance of breaking the silence and ending the isolation someone feels cannot be underestimated. Always listen to what they say.
  • Remember that supporting someone is a challenge. They may not make decisions that you feel are right - they may choose to stay with the abusive person. Don't judge them for this, keep believing in them and be there for them when they need you.
  • Stay in contact with them over time, help them to explore the choices they have, and try to focus on theirs and your safety rather than the abuser or the relationship.
  • Ensure your response supports and encourages them to talk about the situation. It could create an opportunity for them to explore their options and in time make their decisions.
  • Reassure them that the abuse isn't their fault. Violence is a choice the abuser makes and the abuser is responsible for their behaviour.
  • Acknowledge their strengths and constantly remind them of the fact that they are coping well with a challenging and stressful situation.
  • Do not mediate or be the contact person between them and the abuser.
  • Assure them of the fact that they are not alone and there is help available to them.
  • Find out about local specialist support services and helpline numbers. [details are below]
  • Encourage them to speak to a specialist support service if they haven't spoken to one already for further support.
  • Offer practical help such as the use of your address for post, telephone or computer.
  • Offer to keep safe copies of important documents and other items like money, clothing etc. in case they decide to leave in a hurry.

Encourage the development of a safety plan - for them and for any children or other vulnerable people in the house:

  • An agreement with you that they and any children can stay with you for a night or two in an emergency. Preferably at an address the perpetrator is not aware of.
  • A secret pay as you go cheap mobile phone, as it is really common for abusers to take phones off people, or end contracts so the mobile phone cannot be used.
  • Make sure they keep their mobile charged at all times, so they can call for assistance if needed.
  • Agree a code word or action that they can use to signal that they need help.
  • Suggest your friend, family member or work colleague informs a neighbour they can trust about what is happening so that if they need to flee they can go there in an emergency, and then wait there for the police.

Suggest a 'survival kit' - a bag that can be hidden or left with you that has the things they could need if they have to flee / leave at short notice.
The bag could contain [these are suggestions only and will be unique to each person]:

  • Some money - either in cash or a 'secret' bank account, you could hold that money or the bank details for them so the abuser is unaware of it. If they don't have their own bank account in their own name it could be a good idea to get one if possible. Having access to some money solves a lot of problems if they are planning to leave.
  • Spare clothing.
  • Passport, benefit information, birth certificates, marriage certificates etc.
  • Medicines for them and any children together in a box.
  • Phone charger.
  • Spare car key.
  • List of emergency telephone numbers [GP, work, school, benefits etc.]
  • Toiletries and sanitary products.

Encourage the person to break the isolation - by reporting the abuse. Encourage them to take all threats very seriously. Never minimise the threats made by the abuser.

It is important to remember:

- They are the one who has to live with the consequence of any decisions and actions.
- Leaving is an extremely difficult decision to make, involving both emotional and practical considerations. The abuser may bring emotional pressure to bear, promising to change their behaviour.
- Importantly, leaving a violent and abusive relationship only signifies the end of that relationship not the end of the violence or abuse.
- Domestic abuse is unacceptable.
- Everyone has the right to live free of violence, abuse, intimidation and fear.
- The abuser is responsible for the abuse.

Remember that supporting someone is a challenge, take things easy and look after yourself while supporting your friend, colleague or family member. Remember to keep yourself safe at all times.

Most of all be very patient and do not give up on them because your help and support can make a difference.

Have you helped a friend, family member or colleague? Please fill in our feedback from anonymously. It will help us shape our service moving forward.

How you can help feedback form

For more support about domestic abuse and how to stay safe please contact your local specialist domestic abuse service on the below number:

Boston or South Holland call:
The Boston and South Holland Domestic Abuse Service on 01205 318600 or 01205 311272

East Lindsey call:
The East Lindsey Domestic Abuse Service on 01507 609830

West Lindsey, Lincoln, North Kesteven or South Kesteven call:
The West Lincolnshire Domestic Abuse Service on 01427 616219 or 01522 510041

Useful links:
Boston & South Holland DA Service websites - www.bostonmayflower.org.uk www.bostonwomensaid.org.uk
East Lindsey DA Service website - www.personalisedsupport.co.uk
West Lindsey DA Service website - www.wldas.org.uk

If you are concerned for a work colleague you could check if your employer has a Domestic Abuse policy in place, for those who are experiencing domestic abuse, with your Personnel department. This could offer useful support with work issues for the person you are concerned for.

If you believe a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer any form of abuse you should ALWAYS report your concerns, so the appropriate support can be offered to the child and it's parents/carers.
If you suspect abuse or if you need some advice or information, you can contact the Children Services, Customer Service Centre on 01522 782111.
If it is outside normal office hours you can contact the Emergency Duty Team on 01522 782333 OR go to the Lincolnshire Safeguarding Children Board website for more information www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/lscb

In the same way if you have concerns that your friend, family member or colleague has additional Safeguarding care and support needs please call the Adult Services, Customer Service Centre on 01522 782155. If it is outside normal office hours you can contact the Emergency Duty Team on 01522 782333.
Or go to their website for more information www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/lsab

If you witness an assault, PLEASE CALL THE POLICE IMMEDIATELY ON 999.

Quotes from survivors of domestic abuse:

"Even if I keep going back, don't give up on me."

"What did I want? Not to be pushed, I needed to make my own decisions and needed to be really ready to leave."

"I only sought help when a colleague at work picked up on something I said and mentioned it to the Manager. The Manager then asked me and I broke down. She immediately referred me to the GP and my local Domestic Abuse Service"

"Strangely enough, despite thinking I hid everything well, it was my dad who put me in touch with my local Domestic Abuse Service."

"One of my best friends helped me move my stuff quickly, another very good friend helped me move with the kids.
Without their help and support I would not have left."

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If you live in...

  • Boston or South Holland call 01205 311272/01205 318600
  • East Lindsey call 01507 609830
  • West Lindsey, Lincoln, North Kesteven or South Kesteven call 01427 616219/01522 510041
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    Last updated: 4 April 2016

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