Helping Someone You Know

How To Help A Someone You Know… Suffering From Domestic Violence

A great percentage of people have witnessed some form of domestic violence in their lives, known someone, such as a friend, relative, or neighbour even, who suffered in an abusive relationship. It’s hard to come to terms with it, because many people would rather try to convince themselves that it’s better to remain neutral and mind their own business. Deciding that you want to help a friend, relative or neighbour who is a victim of their abusive partner is not as tough as it is for those people deciding to help themselves, but it’s still up there on the list of tough personal choices.

The first thing to do, is let them know, that you know, –many victims of abuse think they’re alone, and worry that no one understands how much pain they’re in. Instead, tell your friend, relative, or neighbour that you are concerned, why you’re concerned, and then ask whether or not they want to talk about it. Even if you’re not sure what kind of help you can really offer, it’s important to let that person you know that you care, that you want to help if she or he will let you, and that you’re willing to talk about it if that’s what the person wants or needs.

It’s important to remember that on the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s an abusive partner who is not going to be happy if they find out that you have been discussing their relationship, and possibly helping his or her spouse or partner leave them. You’re not meddling; you are caring about the safety of someone you know. Remember also, how much you would need a friend if you were in the same situation. Make both your safety, and his or hers your first priority. Getting involved in a situation of domestic violence is dangerous for everyone involved, and you should be careful as to where, when, and how you approach the person who needs help.

Don’t push him or her to make a decision she’s not comfortable making right now; be supportive but don’t push them in a direction they are afraid to go in. Men and women are not always able to just get up and go, even when that’s the best thing for them to do in that situation. You should be there to support your friend, and not be judgemental of the situation, or make them feel as though they should be ashamed for wanting to stay; more than likely, the person is already experiencing a lot of inner turmoil. Making the point clear that abuse is wrong is one thing, but forcing a decision won’t help your friend emotionally, and probably will not get you or them anywhere.
Continue supporting your friend as he or she begins building a new life, even if they plan to remain in the home with their abusive partner for their own reasons. You can let them know that you are behind them one hundred percent; support their decisions, of course. But also be their to help he or she build up their self-esteem once more, until they are more able to be confident in themselves. Be there to encourage every small step towards self-support, and each little accomplishment.