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Do:

  1. Find a safe place to talk
  2. Have someone else present – if this is acceptable to the victim
  3. Allow time for the person to talk
  4. Listen to what she has to say – and take it seriously.
  5. Believe her, her description of the abuse is only the tip of the iceberg.
  6. Give priority to her immediate safety
  7. Empower her to make her own decisions
  8. Support and respect her choices. Even if she chooses initially to return to the abuser, it is her choice. She has the most information about how to survive. However if there are children involved their safety must come first
  9. Give her information about relevant support agencies and if appropriate, offer to contact the agency on her behalf and do so in their presence or offer a safe and private place from which she can contact the relevant agency
  10. Use the expertise of those who are properly trained
  11. Reassure her that this is not her fault, she doesn’t deserve this treatment, and it is not God’s will for her.
  12. Let her know that what the abuser has done is wrong and completely unacceptable
  13. Love and support her
  14. Be patient
  15. Protect her confidentiality.

Don’t:

  1. Judge her or what she tells you
  2. Make unrealistic promises
  3. Suggest that she should ‘try again’ as evidence shows that victims experience a number of violent incidents before seeking help
  4. Minimise the severity of their experience or the danger they are in
  5. React with disbelief, disgust, or anger at what she tells you
  6. React passively
  7. Ask her why she did not act in a certain way
  8. Blame her for his violence.
  9. Act on the person’s behalf without their consent and/or knowledge
  10. Expect her to make decisions quickly
  11. Make decisions for her or tell her what to do
  12. Recommend couple counselling/ family mediation/ marriage courses/ healthy relationship course. These will not help domestic abuse situations
  13. Encourage her to forgive him and take him back.
  14. Send her home with a prayer/ directive to submit to her husband/ bring him to church/ be a better Christian wife.
  15. Contact the person at home, unless they have agreed to this
  16. Approach her partner for his side of the story, this will endanger her
  17. Give information about her or her whereabouts to the abuser or to others who might pass information on to the abuser
  18. Discuss with church leaders who might inadvertently/intentionally pass information on to the abuser.
  19. Encourage her dependence on you or become emotionally or sexually involved with her, this will re-abuse her
  20. Do nothing