How to help someone in a Domestic Violence Situation
Domestic violence can affect anyone. Knowing what to do or how to help when it is someone you know can be a real challenge. It is important to reach out and offer support, but doing so can be cumbersome and many may not know where or how to start.
While you may want to be straightforward with the victim and talk to them about their situation, they should always be the one to decide on what terms they break their silence.
Knowing your role and being there to hear them is the best thing that you can do when first reaching out with concern. You can let the victim know you are worried for them or are apprehensive on the road their relationship is going. Many victims of domestic abuse are extremely vulnerable and can be defensive when faced with the truth from others. It is important to take a step back and help the victim look at the bigger picture, without making him or her feel forced to do so.
You may notice warning signs:
- lack or change in communication from the victim
- differences in general behavior
- physical signs such as bruising
All these things can raise alarms – this is when it is important to get a conversation going. You can ask them how they are feeling or let them know you are beginning to worry. They may not tell you anything right away (and typically won’t), but you have opened the path of communication. Remind the victim that you are there for them when they are ready to talk, but take it slow & gentle. Make sure that you don’t come off as judgmental or emotional, as that will only make it harder for them to feel safe coming forward.
BE THERE FOR THEM
Remind your friend of his or her worth. Be available for them to come to you with whatever they have on their mind.
You can ask them what or if they need anything, spend time with them, or just check in every now and then. Small gestures can mean the world for someone who is dealing with domestic violence considering they often feel isolated.
Make sure to listen to what they have to say. You can offer advice, but do not expect or force them to take any. Letting the victim know about different resources available to help them is a great step. This allows the victim to work on the relationship in their own time.
Let them know that none of the things happening to them are their own fault. You can work with them to figure out their next steps if they want you to… and, if not – you can remind them that you are there for them whenever they choose to do so.
Overall, the best thing you can do is assure the victim you are there for them – while also being there for yourself.
Take it slow but be consistent. You can help them develop a safety plan, or even a code word when they may need you. Knowing you are there for them can make all the difference in the world. Support, no matter how small or large, could be all someone needs to be able to get help and escape an abusive relationship.