A WALK ON THE BEACH
A GUIDE TO PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS
relationships - dating - love - intimacy - health
The way you think about your relationships, the skills and attitudes you bring to them and the time and effort you put in can make all the difference. People are social creatures and relationships matter to us. We enjoy them, we cry over them and we're curious about how to get our relationships to be the way we want them. How well your relationships work can have a big impact on how satisfied you feel with life. Stimulating, resilient, satisfying relationships with partners, friends and family rank high on many people's wish list for a happy life.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

6. HELPING SOMEONE YOU KNOW
If you think someone you know is experiencing domestic violence there are things you could do to help.
The important thing to remember is to do it sensitively and, of course, in a way that keeps both of you safe.

6. HELPING SOMEONE YOU KNOW

People often feel awkward about 'taking sides' and try to keep out of it, saying 'it's not really any of my business'. Friends and family may think that they are being 'neutral' but ignoring it doesn't help.

There are things you can do.
* If you think a friend or loved one is being abused, try telling her that you're concerned, say why you're worried and ask if she wants to talk to you about it. Let her know you want to help. You don't have to know all the answers. The important thing is to break the isolation.

* Always prioritise safety - yours and theirs. The abuser won't appreciate you getting involved so be careful about what you do and where and when you do it.

* Support your friend in whatever decision she's currently making about her relationship, whilst being clear that the abuse is wrong. Remember, what you are trying to do is be supportive, not to make her feel judged. It's not always easy for women to just leave.

* Maintain contact with her overtime and help her to explore her options. Let her guide you in how best to support her.

* Help her to build her self-esteem; remind her of her good points, challenge her if she puts herself down or blames herself, praise her for every step she takes and let her know she has your support.

Practical tips
* Agree a code word or action that if she says to you or you see, you know she's in danger and cannot access help herself.

* Offer to keep copies of important documents and other items so that if she has to leave in a hurry, she doesn't have to waste time collecting important belongings.

* Find out information for her so she can make informed choices.

* Get some support yourself. You have to be strong if you're going to be able to help her. Most domestic violence services are happy to help with any worries you may have or provide suggestions as to other actions you might take. .

Most importantly, don't give up on her. You might be her only lifeline.



Supporting a neighbour
If you suspect a neighbour is being abused, there are some steps you could take.

* In an emergency dial 111

* Talk to your neighbour and explain that you're concerned and ask her if there is any way that you can help. For example, you could agree a code word or signal she could make when she is in need of help.

* Let her know that she or her children can run to you if they need to leave the house immediately. However, these situations can be highly dangerous so remember to keep yourself safe. Confronting the abuser is not a good idea.

* Offer to keep copies of important documents and other items (see Crisis plan) so that if she has to leave in a hurry, she doesn't have to waste time collecting important belongings.

* Find out information for her so she can make informed choices.


What service providers can do
If you're a health professional or work in counselling you may come into contact with people who've experienced domestic violence.

So how can you you help?

Exactly what you can do will depend on your organisation but below are some basic good practice points for all agencies when dealing with domestic violence.

* If you think a friend or loved one is being abused, try telling her that you're concerned, say why you're worried and ask if she wants to talk to you about it. Let her know you want to help. You don't have to know all the answers. The important thing is to break the isolation.

* Recognise that domestic violence is a serious problem.

* Whatever your job, try to see the woman separately from her partner.

* Prioritise safety. Explore with women the steps they can take to increase their safety regardless of whether they're staying in or leaving the relationship.

* Make clear that the abuse is not their fault, no one deserves to be threatened or beaten, despite what their abuser may have told them.

* Give women space and time to talk. Be sympathetic, sensitive and non-judgemental in your responses.

* Work with women to help them make their own decisions about their situation. Respect that they are the best judge of what choices are best and safest for them.

* Give information directly about sources of help. Become familiar with the services offered in your area.

* Display posters and leaflets about domestic violence in public waiting areas and women's toilets. Where possible, collect data on the extent to which your organisation deals with domestic violence issues.

* Give clear messages about the unacceptability of domestic violence through public information displayed in public offices and community outlets.

* Offer women opportunities to talk at more length if specialist counselling or support groups services are available in your area.

* Document evidence of abuse and its effects on women for use in any legal or court proceedings.

* Make sure you protect personal information about abused women being accessed by others, especially new addresses.

* Provide training for staff so they are aware of the issue and what is expected of them when responding to domestic violence.



Helping someone as an employer
It's important for employers to take the issue of domestic violence seriously. * It's in your interest not to lose employees unnecessarily.

* Addressing domestic violence can help to reduce levels of sick leave.

* As an employer you have a duty to ensure your staff are safe at work.

* At work may be the only place that an abuser is unable to closely monitor his partner making it a good place for her to access advice and information.

What you can do to help as an employer.

* Nominating one or two members of staff as people to approach if employees wish to discuss things of a personal nature.

* Making sure that confidentiality and discretion is maintained at all times to minimise the possibility of an abusive partner using workplace information to track down their partner.

* Where possible and relevant, making available extra security measures such as relocating a member of staff out of public view, changing office keys and codes and altering their working hours or shift patterns.