If someone you know or believe is a victim of domestic violence, you may not know what to do to help. Avoid being hesitant to reach out because you’re worried about making a mistake. If you’re waiting for the right words, you can miss out on a chance to make a difference in someone’s life. Many victims of domestic violence live in constant isolation, loneliness, and terror. In these trying times, knowing that someone cares enough to reach out and let them know they are not alone can be very comforting.
Consider the following six suggestions to help a friend or loved one through this difficult time
- Please spend some time with them.
A victim of abuse should only be contacted during times of relative peace. If tensions are rising, it’s not a good idea to intervene. Time should be allotted in case the victim wishes to talk. You won’t want to cut the talk short because you must get somewhere else if the other person decides to unload years of pent-up anxiety and anger.
- Let’s Get to Talking
For example, you may say, “I’m worried about you because…” or “I’m concerned about your safety…” or “I’ve seen some changes that concern me…” to broach the subject of domestic violence. Maybe you’ve picked up on the person’s low volume and reclusive demeanor or seen them trying to hide the effects of bruising. These two behaviors may both point to abuse. Make it clear that you will treat any information shared with great confidentiality. Don’t try to coax them into sharing; let the conversation flow naturally. Pace yourself and relax. Let them know that you are willing to listen and offer support.
- Ignore Your Preconceived Ideas and Listen
If the other person opens up to you, listen to what they say without passing judgment or proposing answers. If you listen carefully, the other person will tell you what they need. Allow them to speak without interruption. Ask clarifying questions, but give the person space to share their emotions and concerns. There’s a chance you’re the first person the victim has told everything to.
- The Victims of Domestic Violence Deserve You to believe them.
Because domestic violence is more commonly motivated by a desire for power than by rage, the victim is typically the only person who recognizes the abuser’s dark side. Often, people are taken aback when they find out someone they know is a violent offender.
Victims of violence often conclude that no one would believe them if they reported the incident. Admit that the victim’s account is plausible. Someone understanding their problems might give the victim a renewed feeling of optimism and relief.
- Give Your Loved One Personalized Help
Assist the victim in locating necessary aid. Find local shelters, social services, lawyers, counselors, and support groups online by searching their phone numbers. Providing literature regarding domestic abuse, if any, is accessible. It would be best if you also directed them to resources for learning about child custody and protective order laws. WomensLaw.org provides a state-by-state searchable database of legal help. Do not be hesitant to aid the victim if they request your assistance with a task. If you can’t, see if there are any alternate alternatives to fill the void. Recognize their advantages and work with them to improve them so they can inspire themselves to change. Get the message that you are a resource they can turn to anytime. Just provide them with your best contact info in case they need assistance. Try to volunteer to accompany the victim to the police station, courthouse, or attorney’s office if you can. In other words, reassure them that help is accessible and that they are not alone in their struggles.
- Assist in Creating a Safety Plan
Assist the victim in developing an exit strategy if the violence resumes or the victim decides to escape the situation. Just writing down their intentions can help individuals mentally prepare to take the necessary actions. Leaving an abusive partner increases the victim’s danger of being murdered by the abuser, so a victim must have a specific safety plan before a crisis arises or deciding to leave. Assist the victim in carefully considering all options for ensuring their safety and methods to mitigate any potential harm.
In conclusion, domestic violence is prominent, and in such cases, it is essential to report the matters to the authorities; however, in case of a court hearing, it’s necessary to have a domestic violence attorney to represent you.