What to do

What to do if you or someone you know is experiencing abuse


People experiencing abuse are not to blame; are not responsible for an abuser’s behaviour; do not deserve to experience any form of abuse


Anyone can experience domestic abuse, it can happen to anyone at any age and in any kind of relationship. You may be living with someone who is abusive but abuse can also begin to happen when you are dating or seeing someone casually. 


You may already feel that things or not right in your relationship, you may have tried to deal with the situation. The most important thing is to recognise what is happening to you is abusive and get some help. Look on the What is Abuse page to see if you or someone you know may be experiencing abuse


If you are experiencing abuse your abuser may blame you and other things like being drunk, being ill, the pressure at work, unemployment and/or numerous other things to excuse, minimise or deny what they are doing. These things can put a strain on a relationship but are not the cause of abuse.


Here are some suggestions to consider if you feel abuse is happening

Don’t keep what is happening a secret, you have nothing to be ashamed of and the longer the abuse goes on the harder it gets to take some action. Don’t suffer alone, get help and advice by talking to someone you trust or contact one of the local services on this website or the 24 hour Domestic Abuse Freephone Helpline 0808 200 247

Research show 1 in 4 women have been in an abusive relationship at some time in their lives; men can also be abused in a similar way. It can happen to anyone at any time time in their lives regardless of age, race, gender, sexuality, disability, wealth, income, lifestyle or where you live.

Your abuser may be trying to control you physically as well as emotionally in many ways. They may be controlling finances, stopping you going out and/or making it awkward for you to see family and friends. All these are things that keep you locked in a relationship.

You are not responsible for the abuse although the person abusing you may be telling you, or you may feel, that it is your fault. You may have already noticed that whatever you do makes little difference to the way your abuser reacts and despite your efforts, you cannot change their behaviour. 

You may be considering leaving or you may have left before and returned for emotional or practical reasons; this is not unusual. Most people try to get help or leave a number of times before getting the help that’s right for them. Never be worried about asking for help again and again – and in an emergency always DIAL 999 


Minimising what is happening can put you (and your children) at risk. It’s not easy to accept that a loved one can act in this way and you may be trying to make the relationship work. Your abuser may apologise and persuade you it will not happen again but any sort of abuse is likely to get worse and rarely happens only once. You may not want to or be ready to leave but by thinking about your own (and your children’s) safety can help reduce the risk whether you decide to leave or not. The services listed on this website can support you to make a safety plan.

If you do decide to leave it will be useful to prepare by thinking beforehand about where you might go and what to take with you; some examples are detailed below. Don’t hesitate to call Suffolk Police, the services listed on this website or the 24-hour Domestic Abuse Freephone Helpline 0808 200 247 for help and advice. 

Could you pack a bag and leave it with someone you trust? Could you get an extra set of keys cut for your house and car? Could you keep some money separate and safe? 

If possible, and where applicable, take some or all of the following with you: 

  • court papers, injunctions/restraining orders, police reports relating to the abuse
  • copies of legal papers, documents relating to lease/rental agreements and/or
  • some form of identification, driving licence, birth certificates, passports/visa/work
    permits; credit/debit cards, chequebook, bank book and payment card for any
    welfare/child benefit;
  • personal and sentimental items like photographs, your diary, address book,
  • prescribed medication, clothing and toiletries for you and your children and their small favourite toys

How to help someone you know who may be affected by Domestic Abuse


If you suspect a person you care about is being abused, you can help. This could be a family member, friend, or someone you are close to. Your offer of help could make the difference to someone living in an abusive situation. There is no right way to help but here are some do’s and don’ts and important steps to keep in mind. 


  •  Do talk in a safe and private space
  • Do take the time to listen and believe what you hear
  •  Do express your concern for the person’s safety
  • Don’t underestimate the risk the person may be at
  • Don’t expect change overnight; be patient and continue to offer your support
  • Don’t judge or criticise the person’s decision
  • Don’t encourage the person to make plans they are not sure about as they may
    need support for their safety
  • Do encourage the person to make their own choices, but urge them to talk with
    someone from Suffolk Police or a domestic abuse service listed on this website
  • Do not put yourself or the person suffering abuse at risk by talking to the abuser
    or letting them know you are aware of the domestic abuse.

If the person experiencing abuse is reluctant to contact the Police and you are concerned about their safety, you can contact CrimeStoppers 0800 555111


National 24 hour Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 200 24

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