Are you concerned that someone you know might be a victim of domestic violence?
Keep these tips in mind.
- Listen without judgment. Ask your friend/loved one about their situation, and let them know that you really want to listen, then give them plenty of time to talk. Let them know you are concerned about their safety, that they don’t deserve to be treated this way, and that abuse is never acceptable. Support the victim in making their own choices, even if that choice is to stay in the relationship.
- Remind them of their strengths. By helping your friend/loved one recognize their skills, abilities and strengths, you will help them to see other options. Point out the strength they have shown by surviving the current situation.
- Help them learn more about domestic violence. You can best help by knowing the facts about abuse. Refer your friend/loved one to this website, and help them brainstorm about other sources of help.
- Make them aware that domestic violence can have serious consequences, not only for themselves but for their children.
- Show concern. Say “I’m worried about you” rather than “Why don’t you leave” or “I wouldn’t put up with that.”
- Provide information about local resources. Share this site and other resources. Let the victim know they can call when they decide they want help.
- Take it seriously. Domestic violence can involve threats, pushing, punching, slapping, choking, sexual assault, assault with weapons or verbal abuse. It rarely occurs once and usually gets worse over time. Abuse results in more injuries than rapes, auto accidents, and muggings combined.
- Keep in touch. The abuser may isolate your friend/loved one. By letting them know you care and are available, you provide a connection to the world and options for safety.
- Help develop a safety plan. Use the plan on this site as a guide to encourage your friend/loved one to develop a plan to protect themselves and their children. Help the victim think through the steps to take if the abuser becomes violent again.
Remember that the victim always knows what is best for their situation, and ultimately has to live with the decisions that are made. They are living the abuse, and must determine the risk for themselves.
Often the most dangerous time for a victim is when they are attempting to leave their abuser. The victim must carefully plan for safety, which may take a great deal of time and several attempts to actually leave. Support your friend/loved one in making their own decisions.
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