Domestic abuse can affect both men, woman and those living with disabilities at any age, which is why it’s so important for us to be aware of the variety of signs and circumstances that can occur across safeguarding.
Many people who’re a victim of abuse can feel reluctant to reach out and tell someone if it’s been going on for a long time. Over the years it’s been said that people who’re victims of abuse, wish someone had asked them if they were okay, as it can be difficult for them to find the right words to reach out and start the conversation.
As many of our roles involve providing support or care to someone in some way, it’s important that we ask if there’s anything wrong on occasions, as the likelihood of someone feeling comfortable enough to confide in you will then increase.
Below we’ve put together some useful pieces of information and some actions you can take if you find yourself supporting someone you think may be a victim of domestic abuse:
What is a safe enquiry?
A safe enquiry is when the person abusing the individual is not and will not easily become aware that the victim has told someone.
What should I do next?
Always be sure that you’re alone with the person before speaking to them and asking them to talk about what’s going on. The person abusing them could be a partner, friend or child.
What should I not do?
If the person lacks capacity to answer, do not continue to pursue the enquiry. You should always keep documentation, making sure it’s kept somewhere the abuser will not have access to the records.
What sort of questions should I ask?
- do you feel safe?
- is there anyone you’re afraid of?
If the person wants to know why you’re asking you can then go on to give them some of your reasons for why you’re feeling concerned. This might open out the conversation for them to confide in you or explain what has been going on to reduce your concerns about abuse.
When do safeguarding procedures apply?
- if someone opens up to you
- when you are suspicious that deliberate or reckless acts of harm are being carried out
- when things are not being done which are likely to lead to harm or neglect
If the person is not ready, safe to talk about what’s happening or able to tell you, you can still offer them support. Remember that older and disabled victims of domestic abuse are less likely to have access to information about how to get help so you can assist them with this as long as it’s safe to do so.
In the older generation, there are barriers that prevent women from reporting abuse or leaving a relationship. For example, greater financial independence, traditional gender roles and low self-esteem embedded over decades.
People with care packages may feel their options are severely limited and may be afraid that it won’t be possible to take services with them if they end a relationship. If older people are being abused by younger members of the family they may feel responsible for their behaviour.
As mentioned in yesterday’s post where we introduced domestic abuse, it can in some cases be the carer that is the victim. Some people with care and support needs are intentionally abusive to their carers. Others may not have the capacity to choose not to be abusive e.g. in dementia cases. In these situations, you can help a great deal by offering support.