Domestic and family violence: how to help

domestic and family violence
Robb and Shane celebrateing 20 years together in a healthy relationship based on mutual love and respect. Image: Amsnel Gorgonio

If you suspect a friend is experiencing domestic and family violence, you can offer support. While your friend may not immediately act to end their situation, your support may lead them to consider their options.

Bringing up the subject of domestic and family violence can prove challenging. Often an abused person struggles with self-worth as a result of the power and control exercised by their partner. They may even blame themselves.

Remember, your and your friend’s safety is the priority.


Therefore, only raise the subject when you’re alone with the person in a safe place. Also, ensure you allow sufficient time for an uninterrupted conversation.

Think about what you are going to say beforehand and be prepared to respect the decisions they make.

If you are not sure how to start the conversation begin with a general concern for their welfare. However, do not make any accusations concerning their partner.

Do not assume their partner is the same person in public as in private. Many abusers present a charming personality in public, so don’t disbelieve your friend because their description of their partner conflicts with your personal observations.

Listen without criticism or judgment.

Having someone to talk to can allow an abused person to gather their thoughts and perhaps fully comprehend their situation for the first time.

Offer advice, not instruction

Avoid instructing your friend on what they should do. Instead, let them know you care and ask how you can help.

Be clear that an abused person is never responsible for their abuse. There are no excuses for domestic and family violence. Also, the abused person cannot stop the abuse. Only the abuser can do that.

Tell them about the organisations that can help, and point them to the resources available. Encourage them to seek assistance. If they prove reluctant to do that but still indicate they do want assistance, offer to speak to an organisation yourself, without divulging their identity.

Do not expect them to leave the relationship immediately. Remember they are the victim of someone exercising power and control over them.

Remind them that everyone has the right to live free from violence.

Explain that in a healthy relationship both partners feel free to state their opinions and make their own decisions.


If your friend wants to access professional advice, assistance or go to a safe place, support them.

If your friend brushes off your concern?

Let them know of your concern even if they don’t want to talk.

Reassure them you remain available to talk or help when they ask.

Remember they may take time to consider their options.

Ending any relationship is difficult. Your friend may:

  • have concerns because of threats from the perpetrator
  • believe they have nowhere to go
  • hope the situation will resolve itself
  • fear social isolation
  • feel ashamed of their situation
  • have little or no access to money
  • feel wary of a future without their partner.

As their friend, remind them that domestic and family violence is never okay. They have done nothing to deserve or cause it, and it is not their fault.

If you or someone you know is at risk of domestic and family violence:

Find more information about what a healthy relationship looks like at

Talk to a friend or family member you can trust.

Talk to a counsellor.

Develop a safety plan to protect yourself. Search ‘safety plan’ at for information.

Get in touch with a LGBTI Police Liaison Officer by calling PoliceLink on 131 444.

There are dedicated officers around the state and PoliceLink will identify a liaison officer in your area.

Crisis support for all Queenslanders identifying as female is available from the DVConnect Womensline on 1800 811 811 (24 hours a day, seven days a week).

Crisis support for all Queenslanders identifying as male is available on the DVConnect Mensline on 1800 600 636 (9 am to midnight, seven days a week).

Call Diverse Voices on 1800 184 527 (3 pm to midnight, seven days a week).

Diverse Voices is a peer to peer phone and internet counselling service focused on the diverse voices that make up our communities.

In an emergency call Triple Zero (000) and ask for the Police.

Thanks to our brand partner: Queensland Government

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