1. ITV Report

How colleagues helped this woman escape an abusive relationship

18 months ago Lisa-Marie escaped a relationship that she described as 'psychologically abusive'.

She said although there were no physical signs that she was being abused, her colleagues noticed her mood and personality change.

They asked her if she was ok and it was this that enabled her to speak out about what she was experiencing at home.

Lisa-Marie was one of four survivors of domestic abuse that helped launch a new campaign called 'Don't Be A Bystander'. It is encouraging people to act if they are worried someone they know is, or may be, experiencing domestic violence or abuse.

I'm normally this bubbly social person and I became very withdrawn and tearful and quiet. I was afraid, I was anxious, I was depressed, and if it hadn't been for my colleagues asking me that one simple question - are you ok? - I was having a particularly bad day and I just blurted everything out and I disclosed and that was I guess the start of me realising I was being abused and then ultimately escaping the abuse.

– Lisa-Marie Flavin

We want to encourage everyone to act, to do something, however small or simple when they are worried that someone they know is, or may be experiencing violence, abuse or sexual violence.

Just the very act of asking someone “are you ok?” can have a huge impact.

We do not advocate stepping in and intervening in a potentially dangerous situation or where people could get hurt – please call the police in this situation.

We want to create a culture where people feel empowered to help prevent violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence and to make Wales the safest place to be a woman.

– Julie James, Leader of the House and Chief Whip

The number of bystanders who have called the Live Fear Free domestic abuse helpline has increased by 15%.

bystanders called the Live Fear Free domestic abuse helpline between April 2016 and March 2017.
bystanders called the Live Fear Free domestic abuse helpline between April 2017 and March 2018.

Mary, (not her real name) is a survivor of domestic abuse.

She said her colleagues had noticed her behaviour change and one sat her down to say “that’s one bruise too many”.

Mary’s neighbours also had suspicions and became involved when her daughter went to them for help. They brought Mary into their home and she accepted their offer to ring the police. Her partner was arrested that night.

Suddenly I didn’t feel alone. People asked “are you ok?” and “how can we help?” and I felt that I could answer.

I’m not sure I would have felt safe enough to answer before but hope that I would have at some point.

I know I had been relieved when my colleague had asked, even though I didn’t feel able to speak to them about what was happening.

What I would say to people who suspect things are not right with a family member, friend, colleague or neighbour, is trust your instinct, ask them if they’re ok and keep asking, it may not be the right time for them to speak to you when you ask that first time, but your words could be the glimmer of hope that leads to a life being saved.

– Mary
  • People can call: 0808 8010800 for 24 hour confidential advice and support.