Looking after yourself as you support others

Supporting someone who’s experiencing family violence can be stressful for many reasons. Here are some ways to take care of your physical, emotional, and wairua (spiritual) wellbeing.

Do what you honestly can

Be honest with yourself and the person you are supporting about how much support you can provide and reach out for assistance when you need it. Don’t take sole responsibility or feel like you have to do everything.

Abusive situations are often too complicated and long-standing for one person to fix by themselves.

Do not confront the abusive person

You might want to confront the violent person. This can be very dangerous. You could worsen the situation, endanger yourself and the person you’re supporting, and also put any children involved at risk.

Be safe when you communicate

Take care when you communicate with the person you’re supporting. Their partner is likely to be watching them closely. Be careful with text messages, and messages on platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook. Don’t share that you and the person are in touch, and you’re helping them.

Expect that giving support can be emotionally hard

Abuse is distressing. Prepare to feel emotional. For example, you may feel sad, confronted, frustrated, or upset.

Emotion is okay. You are human and emotion is not a weakness. Don’t deny yourself your sadness, humanity, a sense that you can’t help, or a feeling that you’re powerless.

It’s useful to know in advance what your triggers are. Be open to identifying new triggers as you have new experiences. New situations can reveal things that have been hidden for a long time.

Three people facing away from camera, sitting on a park bench with their arms around each other.

Give yourself recovery time

Give yourself recovery time

Allow yourself time and peace. This way you’ll be less likely to be overwhelmed.

Do what you know works to recharge you – for example your faith, the support of your whānau, sports, or getting outdoors.

The following links may be helpful:

How to talk with someone who may be experiencing family violence

What can I do to support someone experiencing family violence?