Breaking the Silence - A Good Neighbour Guide
You may know, or be aware of someone who is being abused. You may have witnessed it, heard it, seen physical signs or have good reason to
believe it's going on. It may be a friend, relative, neighbour or workmate. What are you going to do? Don't ignore it.
Break the silence and lessen the isolation and shame of victims.
Here are some tips about raising the issue and giving support to the victim:
- Be open about what you have to say. Approach the matter directly.
- That's a nasty mark/bruise/injury. Has someone been violent to you? Or I'm worried about what I'm hearing and seeing. Tell me what's happening.
- Give them opportunities to talk.
- How can I help? Is there anything I can find out for you?
- Even if they deny what's happening, you can still be supportive.
- I'm around any time you need help, or you need someone to talk to - here's my number.
- Remind them that they are not responsible for the violence, that they are not alone, and that there is support for them in the community and through the law.
- This is not your fault. Family violence is a common crime. But you don't have to put up with it.
- Focus on their safety and needs. You can't be expected to understand what triggers the violence or how to make it stop. Tell the person that your concern is for them and protection against further violence.
- I'm worried about you and the children. I want you to think about how you can be safe before it happens again.
- Tell the person that violence usually gets worse - in spite of promises. It's important for them to have a safety plan. You can help them put this together.
- Shall we talk about what to do if you're afraid or if it happens again?
- Acknowledge that it's often difficult for them to see clearly and deal with the abuse. The person may minimise or deny its impact. Re-state your concern for their safety.
- I know this is hard for you. It must be confusing. But I'm concerned for your safety.
- Respect their confidence. If you involve others, the person should know about it. Remind them that family violence is a public issue.
- I'm not prying - family violence is bad for everyone. It's our business to get it stopped.
- Keep in touch. Stay sympathetic even if your approach is rejected and your intention is not understood. There is likely to be a time when the person understands and appreciates your concern. They may well depend upon it.
- Know your own limits and when it's time for specialist help. Have the number of a support agency such as Women's Refuge or Victim Support ready.
Sgt Mark Hobbs
Orewa Police Station
(09) 426 2640
DDI (09) 947-5111