How to Help Victims of Domestic Violence – Personally, I used to feel clueless about what to say or the best way to help a person who suffered domestic violence. The main issue I had was the fear of saying the wrong thing.
That fear prevented me from reaching out. It’s like I was waiting for the perfect words and that kept me from seizing the opportunity to change a life
I am writing this article because, perhaps there are few people who used to be like me, you may know or suspect someone is a victim of domestic violence, and you don’t know what to say, or how to help. This will help you a lot.
Let me start by saying; the world for many domestic abuse victims can be lonely, isolated, and filled with fear. Sometimes reaching out and letting them know that you are there for them can provide tremendous relief.
But before I share with you tips how you can help victims of domestic abuse; I will tell you what I have noticed. Many people try to cover up abuse for a variety of reasons like – Fear of harm if they leave; They still love their partner and believe they will change; Their partner promised to change; A strong belief that marriage is “for better or worse”; Thinking the abuse is their fault; Staying for the children; Lack of self-confidence; Fear of isolation or loneliness; Pressure from family, community, or church; Lack of means (job, money, transportation) to survive on their own. So, learning the warning signs of domestic abuse can help you help them even when they are trying to cover it up.
Physical Signs: Black eyes, Busted lips, Red or purple marks on the neck, Sprained wrists, Bruises on the arms.
Emotional Signs: Low self-esteem, overly apologetic or meek, Fearful, Changes in sleeping or eating patterns, Anxious or on edge, substance abuse, symptoms of depression, loss of interest in once enjoyed activities and hobbies, talking about suicide.
Behavioral Signs: Becoming withdrawn or distant, canceling appointments or meetings at the last minute, being late often, excessive privacy concerning their personal life, Isolating themselves from friends and family.
How to Help Victims of Domestic Violence
Start a Conversation
You can bring up the subject of domestic violence by saying “I’m worried about you because …” or “I’m concerned about your safety…” or “I have noticed some changes that concern me…”
Let the person know that you will be discreet about any information disclosed. Do not try to force the person to open up; let the conversation unfold at a comfortable pace. As much as possible, take it slow and easy. Just let the person know that you are available and offering a sympathetic ear.
Listen Without Judgment
If the person does decide to talk, listen to the story without being judgmental, offering advice, or suggesting solutions. Chances are if you actively listen, the person will tell you exactly what they need. Just give the person the full opportunity to talk.
You can ask clarifying questions, but mainly just let the person vent their feelings and fears. You may be the first person in which the victim has confided.
Believe the Victim
Victims often feel that no one would believe them if they told people about the violence. Believe the victim’s story and say so. For a victim, finally having someone who knows the truth about their struggles can bring a sense of hope and relief.
Offer the victim these assurances: I believe you; This is not your fault; You don’t deserve this.
Offer Specific Support
Help the victim find support and resources. Look up contacts for shelters, social services, attorneys, counselors, or support groups.
You’ll also want to help them get information on any laws regarding protective orders/restraining orders and child custody information.
You can also try to find other ways the need can be met. Identify their strengths and assets, and help them build and expand upon them, so they find the motivation to help themselves.
Just let them know the best way to reach you if help is needed. If possible, offer to go along for moral support to the police, court, or lawyer’s office.
What Not to Do
In learning “How to Help Victims of Domestic Violence”there are thing you should not do. Although there is no right or wrong way to help a victim of domestic violence, you want to avoid doing anything that will make the situation worse. Here are some “don’ts” the I suggest you avoid:
- Bash the abuser. Focus on the behavior, not the personality.
- Blame the victim. That’s what the abuser does.
- Underestimate the potential danger for the victim and yourself.
- Promise any help that you can’t follow through with.
- Give conditional support.
- Do anything that might provoke the abuser.
- Pressure the victim.
- Give up. If they are not willing to open up at first, be patient.
- Do anything to make it more difficult for the victim.
If this has helped you, please share it on your social media handles. You might just be helping a friends relationship.
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