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Family Unsure How to Help Domestic Abuse Victims

Just under a third of people in Britain know someone who is a victim of domestic abuse, but most do not feel equipped to help them, new findings from Citizens Advice have revealed.

According to the national charity, those with personal experience of domestic abuse are over three times more likely to say that their friends and family were aware of the abuse (48%) than the police (14%), with an even smaller number saying a specialist domestic abuse worker was aware (2%).

Victims may be too afraid or isolated to talk to others about their abuse, which makes the role of other people offering support even more crucial. Citizens Advice finds that more than a third of people (36%) who have personally experienced abuse didn’t tell anyone else.

A new report by Citizens Advice has found that whilst friends and family can play a key role encouraging victims to seek specialist help, they currently face huge difficulties in helping victims this way. These barriers range from a fear they might make a victim’s situation worse if they spoke about it to someone else, to feeling unequipped to help because they don’t know what to do or who to contact if they think a family member is being abused.

The UK Government announced in the Budget last month it would conduct a review of its approach to domestic abuse. Citizens Advice is suggesting that the role family and friends already play in supporting victims of domestic abuse should be considered in the Government’s review.

“Friends and family are often the only ones who might suspect someone is suffering behind closed doors,” commented Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice. “The lives of victims are at risk whilst they remain in an abusive relationship, so those aware of domestic abuse need to know what steps to take to provide support. People need the equivalent of a green cross code for helping victims of domestic abuse.”

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