How can I cope?
As part of Findaway we will be working with people who have supported their family and friends through controlling and dangerous relationships to put together helpful information and resources for anyone worried about someone else's relationship. We will be adding to these resources to this page as we develop them.
In the meantime, take a look at some of our suggestions for taking care of yourself if someone you know is being controlled, scared, or hurt by someone they love.
How can I look after myself?
Make sure that you don't put yourself in a dangerous situation; for example:
do not offer to talk to the abuser about the situation or his behaviour.
do not let yourself be seen by the abuser as a threat to their relationship.
remember that their social media, phone, and emails might be monitored.
never confront the abuser.
Supporting someone else can be challenging and upsetting. Making sure that you look after your own wellbeing can mean that you have the energy, time and distance to help someone else. For example:
Take a break when you need it. If you're feeling overwhelmed by supporting someone or it's taking up a lot of time or energy, taking some time for yourself can help you feel refreshed.
Talk to someone you trust about how you're feeling. You need to be careful about how much information you share about the person you're supporting, but talking about your own feelings to a friend can help you feel supported too.
Set boundaries and be realistic about what you can do. Remember that small, simple things can help, and that just being there for them is really important. Healthy boundaries are good for our own wellbeing and they also help us support others better too. Boundaries are also important because abusers will frequently try and push or ignore the boundaries others have set, and the person you’re worried about might not feel they have the right to set boundaries in the first place. Examples of boundaries might be setting limits on what you can help with, what times you can be available to talk, or deciding what does and doesn’t feel ok to talk about.
If you have your own experiences of abuse it is up to you how open you choose to be about this. If you do decide to share, consider how you would feel if you received a negative response.
The person you’re worried about might compare their experience to yours and may seek to minimize their own abuse, find differences between your experiences or may feel guilty at discussing their experiences with you.
If asked outright if you’ve experienced abuse you could return the conversation to them e.g. “let’s talk about you right now”.
Should I share my own experiences?
Think about your own wellbeing:
Think about safety:
What if they don't want help?
If you feel that someone you care about is being hurt or controlled, but can't or won't reach out for help, and won't accept any help you offer, it's understandable to feel frustrated, upset and powerless. But it's important to accept that there are many reasons why it’s difficult for someone to reach out for help. Those reasons are all valid for them.
What if it's an emergency?
Breaking someone’s trust may mean that they are unlikely to trust other people in the future and may put them at additional risk.
However, there may be times when you feel someone needs help urgently, for example if you’re worried:
That someone is at immediate, serious risk of harm, such as death or serious injury and that it could happen soon.
About the welfare of a child or vulnerable adult.
If anyone is in immediate danger contact the police on 999 as soon as possible.
If you do have to break someone’s trust and tell someone else what is happening, try to keep them in control as much as possible, whilst keeping yourself safe. This could mean that you inform the person you are concerned about what your worries are and, if appropriate, contact the relevant services together.
If you or others feel in danger right now call 999 and ask for the police to help. You might feel worried about getting someone in trouble, but it's important to put your own safety first.
If you are concerned about the welfare of a child or a vulnerable adult contact social services.
If you are worried about someone and unsure what to do, seek out advice.
Who else can help?
There are lots of specialist support services who have useful information on their websites and offer helplines which the person you're worried about will be able to use, if that's what they want to do.
Findaway is a Sunderland based service, if you live in Sunderland your local domestic abuse service is WWIN.
If you're based outside of Sunderland you can find your local service using the Women's Aid Service Directory.
The 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline is run by Refuge: 0808 2000 247