If your friend or family member is in an abusive relationship, they may not realise that their relationship is abusive. They may believe the abuse is their fault and feel responsible. Even if they know their relationship is unhealthy, they may choose to stay in the relationship. As a friend try to be there for them because, although they may not show it, they need you more than ever.
If they do choose to leave they may feel sad and lonely when it’s over, even though the relationship was abusive. They may get back together with their ex many times, even though you want them to stay apart. It is important that you respect their decision and remain supportive so they know they can come to you again.
Greater London Authority has developed some useful guidance for supporting family members and friends experiencing domestic abuse. They have also developed guidance for supporting partners who have previously been in an abusive relationship.
The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) is often called ‘Clare’s Law’ after the domestic homicide of Clare Woods in 2009.
The aim of Clare’s Law is to help individuals make informed choices on whether to continue a relationship if their partner has a history of abuse. Support will be given to assist in these decisions.
Clare’s Law allows any individual the right to ask the police if they feel their partner may have a history of abuse which poses a risk to them. Any third party can also make enquiries into the partner of a close friend or family member.
Once a Clare’s Law application has been made, police and partner agencies will carry out a range of checks. If these reveal a record of abusive offences, or suggest a risk of violence or abuse, the police will consider sharing this information
If it is decided a disclosure should be made, this only will be made to the person at risk. The police will not inform the person at risk who requested the information.
Any disclosure will be made in person – for safety reasons the disclosure is not made in writing and no documentation will be given.
How to make an application:
If you’ve never been in an abusive relationship then you may wonder why a person wouldn’t just leave. We often put ourselves in the place of the victims and imagine ourselves leaving at the first signs of abuse. Leaving can be more complicated than it seems. There are many reasons why both men and women stay in abusive relationships.
It can be very difficult to leave an abusive partner. There may be threats of violence against the person, their children or their families. There could be practical difficulties relating to children, money and housing. Many people who’ve been abused become very fearful, with low self-esteem and confidence. It takes a lot of courage and strength, as well as help and support, to be able to even think about leaving.
Common reasons for staying
If your friend is considering leaving an abusive relationship then they need to plan this carefully. Visit Keeping safe for further information.
It is difficult to see someone you care about hurt others. You may not even want to admit that this person is being abusive. But remember, when you remain silent or make excuses for someone’s behaviour, you’re condoning the abuse.
Ultimately, the abuser is the only person who can decide to change, but there are ways you can encourage them to change their behaviour. It’s not easy for people to admit that their abusive behaviour is a choice and accept responsibility for it. They may benefit from having control over their partner and may turn to you to help justify the abuse. Do not support the abuse in any way. Remember, you’re not turning against your friend or family member – you’re just helping them have a healthy relationship.