Listen to them without judgement
A friend or a family member may be going through domestic violence and you could be unsure of how to help. There are so many ways you could help. But, first recognize that they have to be willing to help themselves first for a breakthrough to happen.
Here are some ways you can be supportive to a friend or family member experiencing abuse.
Listen to them patiently without judgement. Believe them. Do not interrupt or force your own opinions on them. If you push your decision on them it might backfire and there is a risk of them shutting and stopping from speaking to you openly in the future. Instead, ask them how you can help.
Be patient and keep constant communication. You can share resources on credible helplines and hotlines, violence support organizations, online counselling, safe spaces, legal and medical support, and safety tips. But do not be pushy.
Encourage them to build a support network of trusted family and friends. This will help them to get the support and protection they might need.
Help them make a safety plan. This will keep them and any children, physically, psychologically, and emotionally safe. This could also include coining a word, phrase or signal that they could use to alert you and other trusted friends that they need help. Safety planning is critical in the fight against violence.
Walk patiently with them and offer support where you can till they make their own resolution which they are comfortable with. This is the only way a decision becomes sustainable and feels right.
What Not to Do
There is no perfect way to help a victim of domestic violence, but you might have to be careful not to do something that may worsen the situation. Here are some “don’ts” to avoid:
- Pressure the victim to take the action you suggest.
- Blame the victim.
- Bash the abuser. Focus on the behavior, not the personality.
- 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.
- Give up. If they are not willing to open up at first, be patient.
- Do anything to make it more difficult for the victim.
However, in an actively violent situation, calling the police or other protection services is not the problem but part of the solution. Check out resources here.
Domestic violence remains an issue that could greatly affect later generations if we don’t join forces starting from boys, men, girls, women, family and society at large. It is not a good thing. Each one of us has a responsibility to spot and stop it. #spotitstopit
Do you know someone who is going through domestic violence?
Share with them the National Hotline in their country for help.
About The Author
Edith is a creative writer, social science researcher, speaker and a civic change advocate.
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