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Domestic Abuse Awareness Training

Before trying to help, you need to understand how the victim may be feeling. (image four – word cloud)

Feelings may include:

  • Threatened
  • Manipulated
  • Trapped
  • Isolated
  • Ashamed
  • Belittled
  • Intimidated
  • Deprived of necessities
  • Mentally and physically exhausted
  • Unable to make decisions
  • Frightened

What not to say

  1. ‘Why don’t you just leave?’

Advising a domestic abuse victim to leave may seem the obvious thing to say, but:

  • Insisting they leave may be mirroring the controlling behaviour they’re already experiencing– however well-intended
  • The situation may not allow it – there may be several reasons why a victim feels unable to leave, including lack of funds or having nowhere to go, especially if they have children who would need to live outside of the family home too
  • They may still be in love with their abuser – going it alone can feel too overwhelming at a time when their confidence is low. The victim may be wishing the abuse would stop rather than wanting the relationship would end
  • The victim may feel they’re to blame – expecting them to leave, not the abuser, may make them think they’re at fault
  • Leaving is the most dangerous time so a plan needs to be in place to leave safely. We’ll tell you more about exit plans later in this section


  1. ‘But he always seems so nice’

Abusers very rarely show their true colours outside of the home or in front of others. They can appear caring, fun and popular but change when behind closed doors. 

Remember, she may be embarrassed that the abuser fooled her into thinking they are someone they’re not. Also, she may think people won’t believe her if they appear so fond of the abuser.


What to say – opening up a conversation

Opening up a conversation can be difficult in a busy salon. Try to get her on their own if you can and in a space she feels comfortable talking in, free from interruptions and where nobody else can hear.

  • Try to keep the conversation positive – boost her confidence by complimenting her. Tell her how much you value her friendship and how much you look forward to seeing her for appointments
  • Calmly tell her why you’re concerned 
  • Let her open up if she wishes but don’t ask too many questions – she may question your intentions if you ask her to divulge details. It may also come across as being heavy-handed, causing her to shut down and making it impossible to help her
  • You may need to gently persuade her that she is not to blame for her situation – it’s likely that the abuser has told her she’s at fault in an attempt to justify their behaviour
  • Steer the conversation carefully to focus fully on her and how the abuse is making her feel – saying that you’d feel the same can show you acknowledge how she’s feeling and that you believe her


Continuing the conversation

Once you’ve gained her trust, you can start to carefully offer practical solutions. 

Remember, it’s vital that you don’t come across as pushy. Opportunities to leave will likely be rare, so begin by helping her create an exit plan that includes:

  • A safe place to stay – encourage her to explore all options such as friends, family, colleagues or a charity refuge. We’ll tell you more about charities later in the course
  • A bag packed ready to go – advise her to take her keys, passport, birth certificate, driving licence and copies of any bills in her name or joint names
  • Think about security – advise her to change passwords and codes for devices and accounts that she wouldn’t want her abuser to access. It may also be advisable for her to set up two-factor authentication and to get her post redirected
  • Encourage her to diarise events – if she is able to safely

Always thank her for talking to you as it gives you the opportunity to help and assure her she’s not dealing with her situation alone.


Take the quiz below to test your understanding of this section of the course. You can restart the quiz any number of times.




1 / 3

Click the true statements below. When talking to someone affected by domestic abuse you should

2 / 3

What should you avoid saying?

3 / 3

You should steer the conversation to focus fully on

Your score is