How can you help if you see something that is unacceptable or know of someone experiencing Domestic Violence?
Be an active Bystander
A bystander is a person who sees or is aware of unacceptable behaviour or comments.
An active bystander speaks up during conversations to challenge comments, beliefs and attitudes that condone violence or support sexist attitudes. Comments and jokes of a sexist and violent nature reinforce violence and sexism as normal. If someone stays silent during these conversations, it may look like they are agreeing with what is being said.
Useful strategies to challenge inappropriate comments
- Make your concern plain, say ‘That’s sexist and I don’t think it’s funny” or “I think that what you said was really hurtful.’
- Don’t laugh when you are expected to.
- Tell them your feelings and thoughts – show passion and emotion to express how deeply affected you are by what was said and ask them not to do it at all.
- Use humour: sometimes you can make a serious point with humour and diffuse the situation.
- Personalise the violence or injustice and bring it home – would you say something like that or want that to happen to your daughter, wife, mother?
- Remind them that everyone has the right to be free of abuse; Just like their mum, their daughter or sister.
- Invite group pressure: often you are not the only one uncomfortable if someone is disrespectful or abusive, and you may be able to look to others for support ‘I don’t feel good about this, how do others feel?’
- An active bystander can also intervene and may prevent abusive behaviour escalating further. By not taking action we may give the message that we consent to or condone the behaviour. Only intervene if you can do so safely.
Useful strategies if you see abuse or violence
- Call the Police (000).
- Be a witness.
- Get support from others around you.
- Verbally intervene - tell the violent person that what they are doing is not ok, it is a crime and you are calling the Police.
- Create a distraction: for example, ask for directions or for the time.
- Talk to the victim and let them know that you saw what happened and you’re willing to help.
If you know the abusive person
- Talk to them, tell them what you witnessed was not okay and they need to get some help.
- Talk to a professional about getting help.
- Provide information: highlight the facts and debunk the myths. No-one asks to be assaulted, no one likes it and no one sets out to make it happen.
- Ask for an explanation such as asking the abusive person ‘What are you doing/saying?’
- Invite them to think and reflect on what they’ve done.
- Remind them of their best self: for example; encourage their best side ‘Come on you are better than that’.
If you know a victim of abuse
If someone tells you they have been raped, assaulted or abused