Are You Supporting Someone You Know?
Welcome supporters. It’s awesome that you want to help someone make positive changes in their life. Having trusted people around to support them through their change journey is crucial to the success of someone living violence free.
So what does a change journey look like?
Thinking About Change – they might have noticed or been told there are concerns with their behaviour.
Taking Steps for Change – they’re actively doing things to make changes to their behaviour.
Staying on Track – they’ve made changes to their behaviour and now they’re practising to keep those changes going.
There isn’t one right way to support someone on a change journey, so here are some tips for how to support someone while taking care of yourself.
Knowing that someone needs support to change their behaviour can be difficult. But if your gut feeling is that something isn’t right, you should listen to it.
We might be worried that if we speak up it may affect our relationship with the person or that we’ve misinterpreted a ‘normal’ argument.
You might notice things that make you concerned
- Their partner appears frightened, withdrawn
- Their partner is very agreeable
- They or their partner has unexplained injuries
- Personality changes for them or their partner i.e. changing from outgoing to withdrawn
- You’ve noticed them humilating their partner
- They’re using drugs and alcohol to manage emotions
- They’re irritable, short tempered, angry
- They appear sad, closed off, feeling hopeless
- They’re controlling, jealous, using threats and intimidation
- They check their partner’s phone, email, mail and are constantly checking up on them
- Talking about hurting themselves or others
- They accuse their partner of having affairs
- Contact is restricted with family/whānau and friends, isolating themselves
- They stop their partner from seeing people
- They ask for help
Common reasons that people think for not intervening
We might be worried that if we speak up it may affect our relationship with the person or that we’ve misinterpreted a ‘normal’ argument. Challenge yourself if you find yourself thinking:
- “They’re fine when they don’t drink”
- “They never want to talk about what’s going on so I’ve given up”
- “I’m scared and don’t want conflict”
- “Kids are just quiet cause they’re tired”
- “I don’t want to get involved cause I don’t know what to do”
- “They’ll think I’ve gone soft”
- “They wind them up and deserve it”
- “I don’t want to lose my friendship with them”
- “It’s not my business”
- “They’re not usually like this, it will blow over”
- “I don’t want to feel like a traitor”
Anyone can be a supporter. It could be someone’s mate, family/whānau member, neighbour, a bystander in public, or even someone who has used violence themselves in the past and has been on a change journey.
Sometimes people being harmed want to find support for their loved one to change. Here are some tips to see if you’re the right person, or if it’s best to ask someone else to step in:
Providing support can look like:
- Offering a listening ear
- Take time to sit and ask them if they want help or if they’re ok
- Being genuine to build rapport
- Being non-judgmental
- Talking about something they enjoy
- Keeping calm and focused
- Thinking about what to say, how to say it, where and when to say it
- Tell them you’re feeling worried about them and their family/whānau
- Not being threatening or accusing
- Offering support rather than advice
- Notice and acknowledge when you see shifts in their behaviour or they say things about change
What if people think they don’t need support?
- It’s better to make a mistake than regret not getting involved
- Be brave and have the conversation, they could be waiting for someone to reach out
- Don’t give up, keep offering support
- Be kind and non-judgemental
- Think about who else they might listen to
- If you’re concerned, call police – they may already have information or concerns too
Supporters need to keep themselves safe:
- If in doubt, call police
- Have your own support person or someone else to assist you
- If you’re not sure how they’ll react, have the conversation in public
- Is there someone else they trust and will listen to?
- Be clear and have agreements on your role in safety/change plans
As a supporter be mindful of:
- Your own triggers
- Ensuring you have the skills to support them
- Talking to professionals for advice first if you can
If you or someone else are in danger, call
Or reach out to the family violence line
Need help but not sure where to find it?
Use the Service Finder tool below to find the right resources for you.