How you can help

You don’t need to have all the answers to be able to support someone with a disability who you think may be experiencing domestic and family violence.

The least helpful thing you can do is nothing.

Educate yourself

  • People with disability experience domestic and family violence at higher rates compared to people without disability.
  • People with disability can experience unique forms of domestic and family violence.
  • People with disability can experience more barriers to reporting abuse or accessing support.
  • People with disability may not know or understand that what they are experiencing is domestic and family violence.
  • Being aware of the issues people with disability can experience can help to prevent domestic and family violence.
  • Make sure you recognise the signs of domestic and family violence against people with disability.
  • Make sure you know what support options and resources are available for people with disability experiencing domestic and family violence.

Challenge your thinking about people with disability

  • People with disability have a right to healthy and respectful intimate relationships and are not just “lucky to have a partner”.
  • People with disability can be at higher risk of domestic and family violence due to social isolation.
  • The experience of people with disability being controlled can be normalised by society based on assumptions that people with disability are not free to make their own choices.

Start a conversation

  • Make sure you are alone with the person—never start a conversation in front of the person you suspect may be using domestic and family violence.
  • You might offer to take them out to coffee—make sure they feel safe and comfortable to have a conversation.
  • You might say "I have noticed you don’t seem like yourself lately”.

Offer support

  • It is important to make sure you are supporting the person to make their own decisions, not taking over for them.
  • You could share details of support services and resources.
  • You could offer to call a support service with the person.
  • You could call a support service for advice about the best way to assist the person or to have a conversation.

Keep checking in

  • Your job isn’t done after you’ve checked in once. Keep checking in with the person.
  • Make sure they are safe and understand their options.
  • If they say they’re not ready for your help, keep checking in; they may be ready for help in the future.
  • Your support can make a difference.

How to help

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How to help transcript (DOCX, 35 KB)