The positive effects of having supportive people around when someone decides to share their experiences cannot be underestimated. Not only does it open up the possibility of sharing at all, it encourages survivors to seek counselling and other supports, reducing levels of depression, anxiety and PTSD, and lessening the likelihood of experiencing abuse again. If someone chooses to disclose to you, the best thing you can do is believe them, avoid judgement, put their needs first and understand that everyone reacts differently to trauma. So, why is there still a public debate on whether we can believe women who share their stories of violence?
If you are a friend or family member of a woman living with abuse the best thing you can do is to believe her, offer her non-judgemental support and a listening ear and to help her connect with her local women's shelter or similar community agency. Most of all always put her safety first. Never talk about the abuse in front of her abuser and unless she specifically asks for it, never give her materials about domestic abuse or leave information through voice messages or emails that might be discovered by her abuser.