When is it arguing, when it is abuse?

Hi there Jude,

I had the privilege of listening to you speak recently, I can't find the words to say how that was for me, except wow! You are amazing and an inspiration! I had a question for you but missed out on asking it, so I wanted to ask you now. Here goes! If you hear arguing, and you have been brought up to mind your own business, but you want to ring the police, how do you know when it's just arguing, or whether it is abuse?


Thank you so much for your kind words, I appreciate them so much.

In response to your question, it can be very difficult to know what to do and even more so if you have been bought up as you say ‘to mind your own business'. I think we must always keep in mind the danger that could happen if we don't ring the Police or someone else. So I would like to put some questions to you that may help you with your decision on what to do:

  1. Is the arguing regular, does it happen often? Everyone argues at some time, even well functioning families and couples. So do you feel that it is more than that?
  2. Are there children in the house?
  3. Do you fear for the safety of anyone in the house?
  4. Have you seen or heard anything at all that makes you upset or uncomfortable?

Answering these questions may give you a clearer picture of the situation.

What you are proposing to do is exactly what we are wanting from people in our country - we want people to care more and speak out. This is what our campaign messages are about. We are trying to heighten the awareness of family violence and for people to take some responsibility for the people in their neighbourhood and community. Family violence is not a private matter it is a crime.

If you are fearful for yourself in anyway you can make the phone call anonymously, you don't have to give details, which ensures your safety and gives you an element of peace of mind. I think the big picture of what we have to keep in mind is ‘what if we don't ring in and something tragic happens to someone in that house?' Is it not better to have got it wrong than not to do anything at all? Maybe you could talk to someone before making the final decision to ring the Police, a family member, a close friend, a work colleague, or you could step further out and speak to someone from an organisation in your community who deals with issues around family violence. You can find out what organisations there are in your community by phoning our information line on 0800 456 450.

Hopefully by doing these things it may help you come to a clear decision on what to do. I do want to say that I thought your question was a very good one and one that I'm sure will have crossed the minds of many of us. I wish you all the best.



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