Supporting a survivor of 'honour'-based abuse can be daunting especially when it is someone close to you and you are worried about saying or doing "the wrong thing." You don't have to be an expert to support someone but there are some really simple things you can do that will help.
Listen and Believe
- Listen. If someone discloses an experience of 'honour'-based abuse to you, listening to what they tell with no judgment, compassion and empathy can be incredibly helpful. Just taking the time to listen to someone and talk about what has happened can help.
- Believe. Rather than asking a lot of questions, just let them know that you believe them and will support them as best as you can. Try not to skip ahead to what to do practically without first validating what you have heard and listening to what they have to say.
- Reassure. Remind them that no one, regardless of relationship or status, has the right to hurt them and that no matter what, it is not their fault that this occurred.
- Give Options. Somebody who has experienced or is experiencing 'honour'-based abuse may feel they have had power and control taken away from them. This means the most important thing is to respond in a way that increases their choice over what happens next. You can simply ask them what they need or want. They might not make the same decision you would; however, only they can decide what is best for them. You can help them explore options but avoid telling them what they should do.
Signpost to Specialist Services
There is lots of specialist support available both within the University and externally that your friend or loved one can access for support.
- Speak to advisor. A specialist advisor will get in touch to discuss your options with you and will be able to offer appropriate practical and emotional support tailored to your circumstances. This is confidential and does not instigate any kind of formal reporting process.
- Counselling Service. The Counselling Service offers confidential support to students and staff.
- Karma Nirvana - The helpline offers confidential practical and emotional support from trained and experienced advisors.
- Forced Marriage Unit - Operates a public helpline to provide advice and support to victims and potential victims of forced marriage
- Police. To report a crime you can call 101 or visit your local police station to report a crime. Reporting is a big decision and all of the support services linked to above can support you with this, if your friend or loved one decides to make a police report.
- University. If the perpetrator is a member of the University community, your friend or loved one will have the option of submitting a formal report. The first step to making a formal report is to speak with an advisor, who will be able to provide your friend or loved one with advice and support on what options are available to make an informed decision.