HELPING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIMS
If someone you know is in an abusive relationship, here’s how to help:
- Approach the other person at a time and place that is safe and confidential.
- Start by expressing concern (i.e., I am concerned someone may be hurting you, and I am worried about your safety.)
- Take the time to listen, and believe what they say.
- Communicate that you care about their safety, that they do not deserve to be hurt, and that the abuse is not their fault.
- Tell them they are not crazy. A person who has been abused often feels upset, depressed, confused and scared. Let them know that these are normal feelings.
- Tell them good things about themselves. Let them know you think they are smart, strong and brave. Their abuser may be tearing down their self-esteem.
- Respect their choices.
- Encourage them to build a wide support system. Help find a support group or encourage them to talk with friends and family.
- Be patient. Self-empowerment may take longer than you want. Go at their pace, not yours.
- Consider calling The Center to learn more about the kinds of help available, to ask questions specific to the situation, and to learn how you can be an effective and supportive ally.
- Do not accuse, diagnose, or judge their choices; do not draw conclusions about what they may be experiencing or feeling; and do not judge or criticize their abuser.
- Do not pressure them to leave the abusive relationship. There are many reasons they may be choosing to stay. It is possible their abuser has threatened to hurt them or their children if they try to leave. The abuser may control all of their finances and may have isolated the victim from friends and family, leaving them with very few resources of their own. The abuser may have promised to change, and the victim may still love him/her. It is never as simple as encouraging a victim to “just leave” but by all means, communicate to them that help does exist, and that people in their community care about them and their children and want them to be safe.
- Do not feel the need to be an expert. Do not try to provide counseling or advice, but do connect them to trained people who can help. Center staff are available 24/7 to take a call.