Outreach workers in Syria are worried about the vulnerability of women and girls under curfew. © UNFPA Syria

Frequently Asked Questions

If you live in a Country Office (CO), follow CO specific emergency procedures (also see overseas medical emergency procedures) or contact your local authorities. You also may call your organization’s Security Office to discuss your concerns about abuse, harassment, or safety in the workplace. Security will also have information on local support organizations in the Aide-Memoire for Immediate Response to Gender-Based Security Incidents. DSS CISMU Stress Counsellors listed on this website are also available for confidential psychosocial counseling and access to local support resources.

If you feel unsafe for you and your children, please see the question "Where can vicitims go when they decide to leave?" below.

There are many ways to help when someone confides that she/he is abused by her/his spouse/partner.

You can also help the abused person in these ways:

  • Encourage the victim to talk about the abuse in a safe place. Listen, believe, and let the victim know she/he is not alone.
  • Be patient and offer continued support.
  • Express admiration for the victim’s courage in trying to make a change.
  • Help identify options and put together a “safety plan” (that involves assembling important documents, deciding on a safe haven and what to do) in case the victim needs to escape in a hurry.
  • Encourage the victim to start a journal recording all she/he can remember about the past abuse (events, dates, actions, who knew about it etc.), and documenting incidents as they occur. This journal should be kept in a very safe place. The journal should NOT be made on a computer to which the abuser has access. Such a record is invaluable to the victim, and the professionals who will help her/him. It ensures that no important details are overlooked later.

It is helpful to the victim if you don't...

  • judge or criticize a victim’s decisions;
  • press the victim to make quick decisions–let her/him decide when to act;
  • underestimate the danger of a situation;
  • take too much responsibility, or you may increase danger to the victim.

In cases of immediate danger or injury, call your local emergency services in locations where such a service is available and tell them that domestic violence is involved. If you also wish to seek support from your organization's Security Office. 

In non-emergencies, it is important to speak with a professional who knows how to handle partner violence.
  • Shelters for abused women are the safest place. Fleeing to relatives or friends is not a good alternative: the abuser is very likely to find the victim(s) there, endangering the victims as well as those sheltering them. The optimal solution is to get professional help. Domestic abuse victims can seek protection from abuse in the courts in most countries.
  • Bear in mind that a victim often makes several failed attempts to leave the abusive situation before succeeding.
  • If you are concerned that you are exhibiting abusive behaviors towards your partner, there is help. Please reach out confidentially to local support organizations, including Stress Counsellors from the Critical Incident Stress Management Unit (CISMU) listed in the section on "Support Organizations".
  • Please also note the legal information provided in the "Know Your Legal Rights" section.