Looking for signs of domestic abuse

It can be very hard to spot domestic abuse and see when it is happening. It’s important to recognise the signs, whether the abuse is coming from a partner, an ex-partner or the family.

Look for these signs if you are worried about someone:

Decline in engagement

They’re not seeing or talking to friends and family as much as they normally do.

Dressing differently

They’ve suddenly started dressing differently.

Bruises or signs of injury

They’ve got bruises or signs of injury that don’t seem to match what they say happened to them.

Changes in work behaviour

There have been some sudden changes in how they are at work – for example, they might have stopped or started socialising with the team, or they avoid going for promotion.

Frequently called or visited at work

Someone calls them a lot at work or comes to the office.

Changes in social media

How they use social media has changed – for example, they are posting less than they used to on Instagram, or only talk about certain things on Facebook.

Constantly checking in with someone

Constantly telling someone where they are or what they are doing – for example, they are on their phone a lot, either texting or calling their abuser with updates.

They have lost confidence

They have lost confidence in themselves and can’t make decisions easily – for example, they might check with their abuser if they’re allowed to do something.

Their partner speaks for them

Their partner or someone stops them from talking freely or answers for them.

Stopped doing things they like

They have stopped doing thigns they like to do, such as exercise or going to the cinema.

They make excuses

You’ve noticed they make excuses for not paying for things or can’t afford to go out with you.

You see their abuser’s mood swings

You see or hear of their abuser’s sudden and unpredictable mood swings.

You hear shouting or loud noises

You hear shouting or loud noises coming from their home.

Do any of these signs sound familiar to you?

It may be that the person you are worried for is experiencing domestic abuse. Supporting this person is the first step to getting them out of an abusive situation.

If you’re still unsure, and you need further advice on how to recognise abuse, call the national domestic abuse helpline on 0808 2000 247.

In an emergency…

If you hear or see an assault, or think that someone is in an emergency situation, call 999 and report it to the police.

In an emergency…

If you hear or see an assault, or think that someone is an emergency situation, call 999 and report it to the police



Supporting someone through domestic abuse

It’s hard to know what to do or say to help someone experiencing domestic abuse. Your first instincts may be to protect and take them out of their situation. But taking direct action could be dangerous for both the person and yourself. Still, there are many ways you can help.

It can take a long time for someone to accept they’re in an abusive situation. Give them time. They will confide in you when they are ready.

You could say things like, “I’ve not seen you much lately, is everything ok?” or “I’ve been a little worried about you, what’s going on?”

Make it clear that you believe their story. Try your best not to look shocked. You could say, “I’m sorry if I look surprised, I didn’t know”. Remind them that they are not alone and that you are there to help them.

Speak to them in private and be clear that you won’t judge. Reassure them that they can talk to you and it is safe for them to open up.

Encourage them to talk to specialist support services. You could suggest local domestic abuse support using Bright Sky’s directory.

Taking care and looking out for someone else can be tiring. Make sure you take time for yourself too, and do things that help relax you.