Supporting Someone in Need

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Family harm is a difficult topic. It is difficult to talk about, difficult to understand, and it can be difficult to know what to do. Violence and abuse can be experienced by anyone of any gender, age, culture and in any type of relationship.

Abuse happens when someone in a relationship does something to get or keep power and control over the other person. Abuse is often progressive, which means it usually gets worse over time.

The chances are that we all may know someone who is experiencing abuse behind closed doors.  It may be difficult for you to help them directly, however, there are some basic steps that you can take to assist and give support to someone confides in you that they are experiencing family harm. 


If you are worried about someone’s immediate safety, call 111 as soon as possible.

Why people stay

People sometimes choose to stay in relationships that they know are abusive. The reasons people choose to stay are complex, personal and individual. There is a lot to think about.

Whānau: Reputation, pressure, left out, stigma, status, religion, culture, scared of losing children, staying together for the children

Relationship: Companionship, love, sex, committed to it, not wanting a divorce, fear of loneliness, solo parenting, promises/apologies from the person, pets

Practicalities: Money, increase in harm/harassment, less security, no support, nowhere to go

Fear and feelings: Guilt, failure, fear, grief, self blame, denial, not wanting to give up, not wanting to start again, minimisation, normalisation, fear of not being believed.

If you know someone who is in an abusive relationship, make sure they know you are there for them when they are ready. Try not to judge them or make them feel more isolated if they are choosing to stay in the relationship. It can take a lot of time and courage to be ready to make that step.
We can help you make a safety plan
Contact us today
Whether you are staying in the relationship, or thinking about leaving, we can support you to create a safety plan
Warning Signs:
Can sound like:
Don't hang out with them, stay here
I know you're cheating on me
I want it to be just us
It's your fault
Stop making me angry or I'll have to...
Watch yourself or I'll...
Why didn't you answer? Where were you?
You always stuff up
You shouldn't be having dessert
You're being too sensitive
You're not as hot as them
You're so stupid

Your safety is important

If you stay

Think about:

  • Warning signs - that things are getting violent
  • Dangers - e.g. knives in you house, rooms with only one way in and out
  • Your tamariki - how to call 111, having a code word that means leave now
  • Pets - how to keep them safe
  • Telling work/neighbours - so they know how to keep you safe or to call Police

What if?

Ask your doctor to document and photograph any injury. Keep enough petrol in the car and have a grab bag for you and your kids in case you need to leave in a hurry.

What to keep in a grab bag

  • ID, Passports
  • Birth certificates
  • Legal documents
  • CashMe
  • Medication
  • Clothes
  • Keys
  • Keepsakes

If you leave

Think about:

  • When to leave - before they get home
  • Your footprints - make sure you can't be tracked (car, phone, spending)
  • What to take - grab bag
  • Where to go - friend, whanau, refuge
  • Support - who will help and how?
  • Long term - how to stay safe

It is normal for people to leave multiple times before it is the last time.

What to keep in a grab bag

  • ID, Passports
  • Birth certificates
  • Legal documents
  • CashMe
  • Medication
  • Clothes
  • Keys
  • Keepsakes

Supporting Victim-Survivors

Family Action provides confidential support in West Auckland for all victim-survivors of family harm, sexual harm, abuse, or trauma. Your experiences may be historical or current. We will provide support to you and your family/whānau.

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Are you in an abusive relationship?

Are you concerned about your relationship? Abusive behaviours can be physical actions or they can be more subtle. It can be saying things to you or feeling forced to do something because you’re fearful of their reaction.

Take an anonymous online test to check how your partner or ex’s actions impact you.

Take the test