How to help a friend in an abusive situation

29 10 2009
There are two more days left in October- that means two more days of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Here are some tips to help you help a woman you know dealing with domestic violence.
Get all the info you can about domestic violence. One thing you can do is call a domestic violence shelter or the national hotline (1.800.799.7233 or TTY 1.800.787.3224) and speak with a victim’s advocate and learn how you can be as helpful and supportive as possible. You can also search the web for info.
Offering a compassionate ear may be the best help you can give. Don’t push the issue- just let her tell you what’s going on at her pace. Remember to validate her thoughts and feelings, provide her with options and stay respectful of her independence.
Recognize that no one deserves to be hurt and domestic violence is a crime. Phy Rubenstein, a nationally recognized DV expert, says “sometimes we’re afraid that a woman might be insulted if we tell our suspicions, yet it can help a woman feel okay about seeking help. Also, realize that it takes a lot of strength and courage to remain with an abusive partner.
Direct her to community services. Share your info about abuse with her privately. Reassure her that she isn’t alone and that people care for her. Encourage her to ask for aid at a domestic violence hotline or local program.
Provide her with the emotional encouragement she needs. Battered women deal with both emotional and physical abuse. According to the Department of Justice, her abuser probably speaks negatively to and about her. Because of the lack of positive reinforcement, she may feel like she can’t do anything right. So, help her think about her strengths and talents, and stress to her that she is worthy of a violence-free life.
Be there for where when she needs and be sure she knows it. Give whatever you can like childcare, financial help or transportation.
Help her with a safety plan. Help her figure out the steps she should take if her partner becomes abusive again. Things to do: create a list of people she can contact in an emergency; recommend that she put together and hide a suitcase of clothing, personal items, money and important documents. DV advocates can help with safety planning as well.
If she chooses to leave, call or have her call a domestic violence hotline or shelter. Battered women are usually in the most physical danger when attempting to leave. Advocates strongly sugges being very cautious when offering and providing safety in your home. Be very discreet and speak to domestic violence staff about the best method of dealing with this.
If you hear or see an abusive situation happening, call the police immediately. “It cannot be overemphasized that domestic violence is a crime that can resul in serious physical injury or even death,” according to the Department of Justice. “Calling the police doesn’t always mean the abuser will be put in jail, but it is simply the most effective way to protect the woman and her children from immediate harm.”

Source: Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence







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