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‘Support a friend’ campaign: safe ways to support someone experiencing violence

15 May 2015

A new national campaign to help Australians recognise the signs of intimate partner violence and how best to support someone experiencing it has been launched today.

Geelong AFL premiership player Jimmy Bartel joined forces with 1800RESPECT to launch ‘Support a friend’ campaign, which provides a practical list of do’s and don’ts when supporting someone experiencing domestic violence.

The campaign, which features a video and information resources, provides practical advice to family and friends about how to talk to and safely support someone who may be experiencing violence, including sexual assault.

According to ANROWS, one in four women in Australia has experienced violence at the hands of an intimate partner.

Supporting the campaign Australian of the Year 2015 and domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty said ‘Support a friend’ provides valuable information and advice on how to have the sometimes challenging or difficult conversation with someone experiencing the impacts of violence.

“I believe the most crucial support a family member or friend can lend is to listen without judging,” Ms Batty said.

“Focus on what you can do to support her without telling her what to do. And it’s important that she feels you believe her, and that you want to help her. Blaming her, or suggesting it’s her fault or she should just leave, is not helpful. Respect her decisions even if you don’t agree.”

Bartel, as a result of personal experiences with domestic violence as a child, has pledged to grow the awareness of domestic violence and how people can seek assistance.

"It is important for the people affected by domestic violence to reassure themselves they are not alone, help is available in a variety of ways and that their story is valued and not judged," Bartel said.

"I can't encourage people enough who find themselves in domestic violence environments to have a conversation with family and close friends that they can trust and who can listen and not feel like they need to battle it alone."

Jane French from 1800RESPECT said family and friends should look out for signs that a loved one may be experiencing domestic violence, including:

  • she seems afraid of her partner or is very anxious to please them
  • she often talks about her partner being jealous or bad tempered
  • she seems anxious or no longer trusts her own judgement
  • she sees less of her friends or family
  • she seems reluctant to leave her children with her partner

“Given the impact sexual assault and domestic violence has across every section of our community, it is important for all of us to recognise the signs of violence in others and know what to do to support those women experiencing it,” Ms French said.

“Many Australians learn CPR because one day someone’s life may depend on it. We should have the same mindset when it comes to educating ourselves about domestic violence because one day the wellbeing, or even the life, of a woman you know may depend on it.

“If someone you know is living with violence, listen to her, take her concerns seriously and help her to explore options.

“You don’t need to have all the answers. Just let her know you are there for her.” The campaign resources were developed by 1800RESPECT in partnership with Domestic Violence Resources Centre Victoria, OurWatch and ANROWS.

For more information about a service in your state or local area download the Daisy App.

1800RESPECT is the National Sexual Assault Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service. It is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services as part of the Australian Government's commitment to reduce violence under the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–2022.

1800RESPECT is a confidential online and telephone counselling, information and referral service available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Our services are available to people experiencing the impacts of sexual assault, domestic and family violence, as well as their support networks including family, friends and frontline workers.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit our website. In an emergency, call 000. 

Additional partner quotes

“People are often scared to ask questions about family violence because it’s still seen as such a personal issue. This campaign helps all Australians to remember that the best thing we can do to support a friend or family member who is experiencing violence is just to let them know that we’ve noticed and that we’re there to support them, whatever they need and whenever they need it.”

“There’s a fear that people will make a mistake – that they’ll say the wrong thing or they’ll assume that violence is occurring when there’s actually something else going on. But we know our friends and family and we know when there’s something just not right. Trust your instincts, and remember the biggest mistake is to say nothing.”

Attribution: Emily Maguire, Chief Executive Officer, Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria.

“Emotional or psychological violence can involve isolating the person from friends, family, culture, threats against children or pets, threats to commit suicide or selfharm, playing mind games, belittling and humiliating behaviour. Financial or economic violence can include withholding money, controlling family finances, taking out loans in a partner’s name without consent."

“Whether it be physical, sexual, emotional or financial, all forms of men’s violence against women are expressions of men’s power and control over women. All forms are designed to intimidate and induce fear.

“It is crucial we are all aware of the warning signs of all violence so we can best support the thousands of women and their children currently living in distress in Australia.”

Attribution: Mary Barry, Chief Executive Officer, OurWatch.

ANROWS’s additional analysis of the ABS’s Personal Safety Survey showed the most common source of advice and support for someone experiencing partner violence was a friend, family member, work colleague or minister of religion. This campaign will help people in Australia feel ready and informed if someone they love reaches out to them for support, or they think something is not right with that person.

Attribution: Heather Nancarrow, Chief Executive Officer, ANROWS.

Media contact

Kelli Browne, Director Communications and Marketing, ph: 0418 356 189 or email