Reach In

It’s hard to reach out for help from behind closed doors. We need someone outside to reach in.

As a friend, family member or neighbour, it’s not your responsibility to stop domestic abuse. But you can do a lot to help by following a few simple steps:

  1. Prepare
  2. Ask
  3. Listen
  4. Reassure
  5. Offer help

1. Prepare

Think of safety first and don’t put yourself or your friend at risk.

  • Think about safe ways to meet or contact them when they’re alone
  • Know what help is available locally – try searching your local council website for ‘domestic abuse’
  • Have the numbers for the relevant national helplines to hand
  • Be led by what they think is safe

2. Ask

Start conversations gently, conveying your concern.

  • “You haven’t been in touch much lately. Is everything OK?”
  • “I’ve noticed you seem a bit down. Has anyone upset you?”
  • “I’m worried about how you’re doing. Should I be?”

3. Listen

A common concern is feeling like you don’t know enough about domestic abuse to respond well. But simply listening can help someone to break the silence around their situation.

  • “Go on…”
  • “How do you feel about that?”
  • “Thank you for telling me.”

4. Reassure

If someone tells you they are being abused, the important thing to convey is that you believe the person. And to let them know what’s happening to them is wrong.

  • “I believe you.”
  • “It’s not your fault.”
  • “Thank you for telling me.”

5. Offer help

Make suggestions, not demands. It’s important not to pressure the person who is experiencing abuse. They need to make their own decisions in their own time.

  • Offer to ring a helpline to find out about support.
  • Offer to make a plan together on how to stay safe – take a look at our safety planning guide
    You could offer a place to stay if needed, or keep an emergency bag. Remember leaving an abusive partner can be dangerous. It should be done with the support of a specialist domestic abuse service.

If you need help now

If you, or someone else, is in immediate danger call 999 and ask for the police.

Emergency support services

How reaching in has changed lives

#ReachIn: Ruby’s story

Ruby talks about how important her friends would have been if she was still in her one bed flat now.
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Celia's story

Former SafeLives Pioneer Celia Peachey talks about the power of reaching in when you’re worried about someone experiencing domestic abuse.

More help and advice

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Get help and support

SafeLives isn't a domestic abuse service. But if you're experiencing domestic abuse or you're worried about a friend or family member, help is available.
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Supporting friends and family

Guidance and advice to help friends and family support victims and survivors of domestic abuse. Learn how to respond, what to say and help someone stay safe.

Your Best Friend

This project aimed to educate and empower young women, girls and non-binary people with the knowledge and confidence to spot abuse in relationships and support their friends.