I think my neighbour is being abused, what should I do?

Domestic Abuse - You Can Make a Real Difference

19 Jan 2016

Believe it or not most people who suspected domestic abuse happening to their neighbour, felt it was not their place to report it to the police as it was ‘airing their dirty laundry in public’.

A recent Humberside Police survey conducted in December 2015, showed the majority of people feared calling the police with their concerns could make things worse for the victim and felt it was none of their business.    

A person who is in an abusive relationship quite often needs the help of family, friends or neighbours to spot the signs of an abusive behaviour. So the main question is; what would it take for you to pick up the phone and call the police? 

Would you pass your concerns to the police at your first doubt, or wait until the abuse has escalated to violence or you feared their life was in danger, before calling the police?

The police survey also asked; ‘If you suspected someone you knew was the victim of domestic abuse, what would motivate you to call the police?’

The general response was that people feared making things worse, being wrong and the possibility of reprisal which would prevent them making the call. This is the attitude we want to change, and instead of worrying your call may cause more issues, it may in fact help them. 

The questions asked were:​



Domestic abuse is about the misuse of power and the exercise of control by one person over another within an intimate relationship or family type relationship.

This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of control: Psychological, Physical, Sexual, Financial or Emotional.

That means women, men, individuals in same sex relationships and family members can experience domestic abuse and the perpetrator could be a family member, partner or ex-partner.


It takes great courage to leave an abusive relationship. On average, victims live with violence for seven years before leaving an abusive relationship for good. Domestic abuse is rarely a one-off event, it can increase in frequency and severity over time. No other type of crime has a rate of repeat victimisation as high as domestic abuse. 


Remember domestic abuse is a crime and is unacceptable. You might think domestic abuse is nothing to do with you, but watching a friend or loved one being hurt and powerless is upsetting. Nationally only 16% of domestic abuse is reported to the police, which means that most suffer in silence, by reaching out to a friend, you can help break their isolation.

It is possible the victim does not realise what they are experiencing is domestic abuse. You can help to recognise the signs and take steps to help them stay safe. With domestic abuse, being a crime, it is always treated with the same severity as any other violent crime. It will not be ignored.

This diagram shows that sometimes abuse happens in a cycle. It is different for every relationship and not all relationships follow the cycle – many report a constant stage of tension and incidents.

Adapted from Dr. Lenore Walker’s; Cycle of Violence’

Love, Hope and Fear keep the cycle in motion and make it hard to end an abusive relationship. Love for their partner, the relationship has its good points and hope that it will change for the better or fear the threats to kill, or harm you or your family will become reality all lock a person in the cycle.


If anyone would like further details on domestic abuse, please contact any of the following in confidence; Humberside Police on 101, East Riding Domestic Violence Abuse Project (DVAP) on 01482 396330, Hull Domestic Abuse Project (DAP) 01482 318759, or Its My Right Project for North and North East Linc 0800 1974787. Alternately speak to your GP or your local Social Services.

Follow more domestic abuse stories on Twitter by following #lifecanbebetter

If you suspect a loved one, neighbour, colleague or friend is suffering in silence, you can report your suspicions anonymously to Humberside Police on 101, or 999 in an emergency. We will deal with each case thoroughly and sensitively.