If you suspect someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there are ways you can help. Domestic violence and abuse is a deeply sensitive subject, and victims often feel isolated, fearful, and burdened. It can be scary to reach out, but doing so can be a beacon of hope for someone in a devastating situation.
Read on to discover how to support a victim of domestic abuse.
1. Look For Warning Signs
Many victims of domestic violence maintain secrecy about the abusive conditions of their relationships long before you may suspect something is off. It is normal for a victim of abuse to hide the details of their relationship, but there are several things you can look out for.
Someone experiencing abuse may begin to withdraw or cancel engagements. They also may apologize more often, appear fearful or anxious, develop depressive symptoms, or start to be overly secretive about their private life.
For those who are physically abused, you may notice bruises, cuts, sprains, or other peculiar marks on their skin. Some victims, regardless of how they’re being abused, turn to substances or even share thoughts of self-harm.
2. Reach Out
When starting a conversation to offer support, it’s important to do so in a calm, safe moment. Set aside enough time to accommodate a long conversation, but keep in mind that the person may not wish to disclose much, or anything, about their situation. Still, even opening up a conversation with a potential victim can provide a lifeline of support should they choose to use it down the road. Even without details, let them know you care about them and want them to feel safe, in their relationship and in your conversation with you.
3. Listen Well
If they decide to engage in a conversation, it’s important to demonstrate active listening skills. Repeat what they’ve said to you to ensure you’ve understood, ask questions seeking to understand, and withhold all judgment and advice. Beforehand, it’s helpful to state that the information they share is safe with you and that you will be discrete and respectful with their story.
4. Validate Their Feelings and Experience
Victims frequently have opposing feelings about their relationship. They don’t wish to be hurt, but they carry love or admiration for the positive things in their relationship, too. Above all else, provide assurances that you believe them and that the violence is not their fault. Let them know that it’s normal to hold conflicting feelings, but that they don’t deserve to be treated poorly or hurt.
5. Devise a Safety Plan
If they’re open to it, offer your help to create a plan of safety in the event of future violence. Create specific steps that include:
- a coded phrase or word to share with friends and family in the event of violence
- a safe place to go if they need to leave their home
- an alibi or reason to leave if they are feeling unsafe
- a getaway bag with important documents, a change of clothes, emergency contacts, and toiletries
6. Offer Resources
There are several community resources available for domestic violence victims. From shelters and hotlines to legal aid, help them get any information that could prove useful in the future. If needed, look up local laws and statutes regarding child custody and protective orders, and locate a reputable domestic violence defense attorney to cover all your bases.
7. Respect Their Autonomy
There are many reasons why a victim of domestic abuse chooses to remain in an abusive relationship. The important thing for you to do to support them is to remain a lifeline for them without pressuring them or shaming them into leaving their relationship. It is ultimately their decision to stay in their relationship, but you can provide assistance by being stable support for them no matter what. A safe and caring friendship may be just the thing to help them when they need it most.
FAQs About Victims Of Abuse:
How to tell if someone is a victim of abuse?
Victims of abuse go into isolation because of fear, anxiety or depression. They become secretive about their private lives and are seen apologizing more often.
How to tell if someone is a victim of physical abuse?
Besides bruises, sprains and cuts, victims of physical abuse can show inclination towards substance abuse. They may also share thoughts of self-harm when you interact with them.
How to talk to a victim of abuse?
Ensure the comfort level of a victim of abuse when you talk to them about how they feel or what they should do. Make sure it’s the right time and the right place to talk to them. Expect that a victim of abuse may not share much about their ordeal. Talking to a victim of abuse can provide them with an opening to rid themselves of a very painful and complicated situation.
How to validate feelings of victims of abuse?
The most important thing to do to validate feelings of victims of abuse is to make them believe that they don’t deserve to be abused in any situation. Victims of violence often think that they deserve the treatment being meted out to them. They also admire what they believe to be the positive side of their relationship.
How to ensure safety of victims of domestic abuse?
The first thing to do to ensure safety of a victim of domestic abuse is to ensure they understand that they don’t deserve this treatment. You can make a safety plan for them to follow in case they are subjected to domestic abuse in future. The plan should include a coded phrase or word to share with family and friends whey they are subjected to violence, a safe place to go to when they feel unsafe, a reason or alibi to leave home, and a bad containing important documents, spare clothes, emergency contacts, etc,
How to locate resources for domestic violence victims?
Explore all community resources for domestic violence victims and any information useful in this regard. Identify shelters, hotlines and legal aid in case of emergency. You can also locate a domestic violence defense attorney for help.
Should I tell a victim of domestic abuse to end her relationship?
Be there for a victim of domestic violence for help without trying to pressure or shame them into leaving their relationship.