The question isn’t whether to act – it’s what to do.
If you think your friend, your neighbour, or someone in your family may be at risk and you’re looking for a useful way to help, here are some ideas:
- Take it one step at a time. It’s a complex situation and won’t turn around in one conversation.
- Your challenge is to act without judging anyone or trying to decide what should happen.
- You start the conversation. How ever hard it feels to you, it will be harder for them.
- If it’s someone you don’t really know, start by introducing yourself. Invite them over. Once you know each other better you may be more able to help.
- Making an observation is less intrusive than asking a question. “I heard loud voices the other night” rather than ‘were you having a fight?”
- Matters of fact neutral statements usually work better than opinions or questions. People are less likely to feel they have to defend themselves or their partner.
- Offer your help as a statement not a question. “I’d like to help” gives them some information. “Can I help”? asks something of them.
- Offer practical help - “if you need to send the kids over that would be fine”.
- The behaviour is the problem rather than the person. So say “it’s not okay to act like that” but don’t criticise the person doing it - “what a creep”.
- In situations when it’s safe, its good to put forward a different perspective.
“I’m concerned about the way you treat your partner. No one deserves that”
“I worry about the way you behave at home. I’ve seen you control yourself at work so I know you can do it.”
- Keep the communication open. Support them while they work out what is best for them.
Dangerous behaviour should be reported to the police. You can talk confidentially to Child Youth and Family on 508 326 459 if you are worried that a child might be hurt.
There is more detail about these points in Family Violence – How do you help?
You can find more ideas and information at www.areyouok.org.nz
You can find more information specific to children at www.childmatters.org.nz