If someone you know or care about is subjected to domestic abuse: they may have told you directly, you may have witnessed it or you have strong grounds to believe they are in that situation. Starting the conversation can be really difficult. The suggestions in the chart below may help.
It is important to remember that domestic abuse differs from a “bad” or “dysfunctional” relationship. The difference is that, if subjected to domestic abuse/coercive control, one partner fears the other.
Domestic abuse and coercive control is about POWER and ENTITLEMENT: the abuser seeking to control their partner.
The abuse may not happen all the time- there are often periods of quiet, leading up to abuse, followed by another quiet period, often accompanied by apologies and promises.
Child protection and child welfare is always a priority in Domestic Abuse situations. If you are concerned about a child or children, please report your concerns. Find out how at the Tusla website. If you have concerns for the immediate safety of a woman or her children, please contact the Gardai directly.
|Signs a woman may be subjected to domestic abuse||How to talk about Domestic Abuse||Please don’t|
|She becomes distant from her family and friends and may stop seeing them.||If you are approaching her about abuse, please find a safe time and space to discuss the matter. Start with saying what you have noticed, i.e. 'I saw/heard...' 'I noticed that...'||
Blame her or find fault with her, i.e. 'why don't you just leave'. The abuser is responsible for ending the abuse, not those subjected to the abuse.
|Her partner continually phones or texts her when she is away from him, checking to see where she is and who she is with.||Let her know that you care. You are not accusing her or blaming her, you are concerned.||
Show frustration or give up: it is estimated that women try to leave abusive relationships between seven and nineteen times before leaving for good. Remain hopeful.
|She may have bruises, cuts or other injuries which cannot be easily explained.||Let her know that you believe her- abusers can be very charming and she may believe that no-one will believe her.||
Minimise her experiences by justifying or dismissing the abuse, i.e. 'he was drunk' or 'he loves you, really
|Financially, she may have little access to cash or 'spending money', even if she is working and/or well-paid.||If she does not want to talk (or if she denies it is happening), please respect her decision and do not force the issue. Let her know that she can come to you whenever she is ready- many women will need time before being able to speak about it.||
Give her orders or tell her what she needs to do. It’s likely that she already feels powerless in this situationbe supportive and be careful with the words you use. Don’t mimic the behaviour of the abuser - do the opposite.
|Her behaviour may have changed- become more withdrawn; quieter; less approachable. She may become dependent on alcohol, drugs or other substances for the first time or, alternatively, stop drinking or smoking out of the blue.||Let her know that the abuse is not her fault. There are supports that she can avail of when she’s ready. Refer her to our website or give her our phone number.||
Make hurtful or negative comments about her partner. It may be your first reaction, but she may defend him from criticism, which will cause conflict and may drive her away. Instead, focus on how she is feeling and the impact that the abuse is having on her and any children affected
|She appears to be afraid of her partner and may be overlyanxious about pleasing him||Focus on how she is and how she is feeling in the situation.||
Confront the abuser. Confrontations can heighten the danger for her and any children in the situation.
If there are children in the situation, how is the abuse affecting them? Many abusers also abuse children directly and/ or use children as leverage against the mother.
Her safety and the safety of any children in the situation are the most important factors.