Friends can be a great support for victims.

If you are a victim here are some points to think about -

Men in particular can find it difficult to open up about what they are going through.  The first time you speak to someone about the domestic abuse may be the hardest.

"I went to lunch with a friend from work and was determined to talk about the domestic abuse I'd been suffering but I couldn't get the words out.  I felt I'd let myself down by this and the abuse got worse before I managed to talk to someone."

Try to talk to someone you can trust and who you think will not judge or criticise you.  Many men find it easier to talk about their feelings to a woman but this is a personal choice.  If you are feeling so betrayed by your partner that you feel that you cannot trust any woman, then you may prefer to talk to a man.

Initially you may find it easier to talk in confidence on one of the helplines listed on this site or to a counsellor, but try to talk to friends too.  Domestic violence is a very isolating experience but you will feel less isolated if you can share what you are going through with a friend or friends.

If you are the friend of a victim -

Try to be non-judgemental, and try to understand the difficulties and complexities of the victims situation.  Try to allow the victim plenty of time to talk themselves by not talking too much yourself or giving strong opinions.  It takes a lot of courage for the victim to open up - acknowledge this and try not to criticise.  If you acknowlege and appreciate your friends situation they will find it easier to talk.  If you judge or criticise they are more likely to 'pull the shutters up'.

You might offer to go with your friend to the police, a doctor or the hospital.  Do not try to intervene between your friend and their partner.

If you feel it would help there are plenty of short courses available in counselling skills - check with your local college.  Most short courses introduce you to listening skills and these can be used to help a victim open up to you about their feelings and what they are going through.  A short course will not make you a counsellor but will help you to be a good, non-judgemental and supportive listener - a good friend.