After many months of being in lockdown, we finally received the welcomed news from the government that restrictions will slowly start to be lifted over the coming months.  

For people in abusive relationships, this could be the opportunity to escape the toxic environment and abuse they have been locked into during the last year.  

So, what do you do when you think a friend or family member maybe suffering at home at the hands of an abuser? Firstly, lets consider some signs to look out for. 

Let’s begin with the question How are you?  

This is something we say without really thinking too much about it when we talk to our friends and family, it’s a question, but not one we take a lot of notice of, as we all generally reply ‘good’ or ‘fine’ even when we are not really feeling that way. So, if we have our doubts we could consider How are they really? 

Let’s look at how to recognise some of the signs of abuse if we are concerned. This can be difficult during lockdown, we all feel isolated to a degree and cannot see our loved ones in the normal way, but there are a few things you can look out for. 

  • Are they able to talk to you on the phone as they did before lockdown? 
  • Will they facetime or join zoom with you or do they make excuses so that you cannot see them? 
  • Can you hear their partner in the background making them feel they have to end the call? 
  • Do they only engage with you when their partners are not home or when they are out of the home? 

It’s not always easy to know how to support a friend or loved one who is experiencing domestic abuse. But it’s important to remember you can make a difference. Let’s move onto how how you can support them and start that vital conversation.  

You could start the conversation with ‘I’ve been worried about you’ - give them time to open up. They may not be able to confide in you straight away, for fear of their abuser finding out or feeling judged and it may take several attempts before they are able to talk about what’s been going onIt’s important not to tell them to leave or criticise them for staying. This is a decision they have to make in their own time. 

Focus on supporting them and building their confidence. Talk about their strengths and how amazing they are at coping the way they have in such a traumatic situation. 

Reassure them that they do not have to stay with their abuser and can leave anytime, even during lockdownMost importantly, be patient. They have made the first step in confiding in you. This is the hardest step to make and it can take time to admit they are being abused. Deciding to leave is a process. It is also important to remember that this can be the most dangerous time, as the risk can escalate at the point of leaving an abusive relationship and this needs to be planned in a safe way. 

Encourage them to contact a local domestic abuse organisation. They will have access to friendly experienced practitioner, to walk beside them during their journey and enable them to be free of the abuse. 

There can be joy in ‘letting go’ the first thing to accomplish is to cast off, ‘to leave behind’.

Many of us are attached and we believe that this is essential for our survival. We believe it makes us feel secure and without it we would not be happy. 

**Something to consider** 

And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. 

 

Here are Next Chapters contact details for all your support needs  

Compass 0330 3337444 

Next Chapter 01206 500585 

Email [email protected] 

www.thenextchapter.org.uk