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If a man tells you he is using violence

Telling someone else about using violent or controlling behaviour is an important step towards change. If someone you know has confessed to using violence in his relationship, you might be feeling shocked, confused, or angry. What you do and how you respond in this situation can make a big difference to him and to his family.

There are many things you can do to support a man to address his behaviour. It’s important that you do these in ways that ultimately make it safer for his partner or ex-partner. You can:

  • treat his confession seriously
  • name his behaviour for what it is: abuse
  • tell him that any form of control or violence is unacceptable
  • tell him that his behaviour has to stop
  • encourage him to think about the impact his behaviour has on his partner or family
  • talk to him about the Men’s Referral Service, and encourage him to call us
  • encourage him to join a men’s behaviour change program
  • call us yourself for support and advice about how best to respond

What not to do

  • Don’t say it doesn’t matter
  • Don’t assume the abuse is minor or trivial
  • Don’t accept his excuses or allow him to blame others
  • Don’t try to make him feel better about his behaviour
  • Don’t focus on trying to understand why he is abusive
  • Don’t think that telling him to stop will be enough

Know your limitations

Are you a trained counsellor, social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist? Perhaps you’ve had years of experience helping people work through difficult circumstances.

Working with men to change their abusive behaviour requires specialist skills, including strategies for assessing risk and ensuring the safety of his partner or family. Unless you have training in men’s family violence there’s a chance your support could make the situation worse.