If you know or believe that someone you care about is a victim of domestic abuse, you may want to help them but are unsure of what you can do. Don’t let your fear of saying anything inappropriate keep you from reaching out. Waiting for the correct words may prevent you from taking the chance to improve someone’s life.
For many domestic violence victims, life may be lonely, isolating, and frightening. Reaching out and letting them know you’re there for them may be a considerable comfort. Although it may be natural to want to “save” someone you care about from domestic violence, the person who is being abused must ultimately decide whether or not to leave and seek help.
Helping a Domestic Violence Victim
There are numerous ways in which you can help a victim of domestic violence, such as:
Make Time for Them
Should you choose to contact an abused person, do it while you are calm. Getting engaged when people’s tempers are rising might be dangerous. Make sure you have enough time planned out in case the victim decides to speak up. You will not want to terminate the talk because you have another obligation if the individual chooses to reveal years of bottled-up anxiety and fury.
Start a Conversation
You can introduce the idea of domestic violence by saying something like, “I’m worried about you because …” or “I’m concerned about your safety because …” or “I’ve seen certain changes that concern me, such as …”
Perhaps you’ve seen the individual wearing garments to hide injuries or noticed that he or she has been abnormally silent and reclusive. Both of these things might indicate that someone has been abused. Make it clear to the person that whatever information they share will be kept private. Allow the conversation to flow naturally, rather than forcing the person to open up.
Listen Without Judgement
If the person chooses to speak, listen without passing judgment, providing advice, or giving solutions. If you attentively listen, the individual will most likely tell you precisely what they require. Allow them to speak for as long as they want.
You can ask clarifying questions, but you should mostly let the other person express their emotions and anxieties. You could be the first person with whom the victim has shared his or her secrets. Pay attention to their tale and validate their feelings.
Keep an open mind and allow them the opportunity to talk, even if you know the abuser and can’t believe they’d do what they’re accused of.
Learn the Warning Signs
There are a variety of things that you can be on the lookout for, including things you can see to feelings you can observe. Here’s a closer look:
- Bruised eyes
- Busted lips
- Neck markings that are purple or red
- Sprained wrists
- Bruised arms
Violence may have an impact on a victim’s mental health or even induce mental health concerns, such as:
- Low self-confidence
- Becoming overly apologetic
- Changes in sleeping or eating habits
- Nervousness or feeling tense
- Abuse of drugs and/or alcohol
- Lack of interest towards activities and hobbies that were once enjoyable
- Talk of suicide
- Developing a reserved or aloof demeanor
- Last-minute cancellations of meetings or appointments
- Being late regularly
- Their personal lives are shrouded in excessive secrecy
- They’ve cut themselves apart from their family and friends
Believe the Victim of Domestic Abuse
Since domestic violence essentially is about control rather than fury, the victim is sometimes the only person who actually sees the accused’s ugly side. Others are frequently surprised to hear that someone they know is capable of violence. As a result, victims often assume that nobody would believe their story if they reported the abuse.
This is why it’s essential for you to trust the victim’s tale and express your belief. Finding someone who understands their problems might bring a feeling of hope and comfort to the victim. You can provide these reassurances by stating things like:
- “I have faith in you.”
- “It’s not your fault.”
- “You don’t deserve to be treated like this.”
Recognize their courage and bravery in speaking up and asking for help. Recognize that discussing the abuse may make the victim feel like they’re betraying the accused abuser. Try to make them recognize that seeking help for themselves (and their family, if applicable) was the responsible thing to do.
When Should You Start Worrying?
Domestic violence is always a serious issue, but there are different things you can suggest depending on what has occurred. First, examine the victim’s degree of safety by inquiring about current events and previous abuse. Then, in different settings, ask them to characterize the abuser’s behavior. If the victim mentions something similar to the instances below, you should pay close attention to the entire situation and be extra vigilant at all times.
- The abuser has made death threats.
- The abuser has firearms in the house or has just purchased a gun
- The abuser has locked the victim inside a home
- The abuser has murdered or harmed the victim’s animal companion
- The victim has incurred many injuries from previous assaults
- The abuser has threatened to harm or kill themselves, their children, and/or the victim if the victim departs
- The abuser talks of murder nightmares
What You Can Do to Support a Domestic Violence Victim
Be supportive, but don’t tell them what to do.
Provide them with alternatives that will assist them in making their own choice. Give them the contact number to report a domestic violence case and allow them to call it themselves if they decide to. Also, give them the number for a crisis hotline and offer them information about a rescue shelter if they want. This gives them the freedom to make their own judgments and decisions.
Keep your conversation confidential.
The world thrives on gossip, and social media makes confidentiality even more challenging to maintain. Even if you innocently share the smallest detail, it could start a situation that could endanger the victim and their loved ones.
Never counsel the abuser and victim together.
Addressing the abuser directly increases the threat to the victim while giving the abuser more authority. If the abuser is sitting next to the victim, it’s likely that the victim will not feel comfortable discussing what is actually happening. Instead, the abuser will use words or facial expressions to attempt to dominate the discussion and frighten the victim into keeping quiet.
Things to Say to a Victim of Domestic Abuse
There are plenty of things you can say to someone you think is being abused, keeping in mind that they may not identify as an abused person. Let them know that any form of abuse is unacceptable, and call the behavior out for what it is without attacking the abuser verbally.
“Choose your words wisely when speaking to a victim of domestic violence.”
Here are some things you may say when helping domestic violence victims in coping with the abuse’s impact:
- “You’re not on your own.”
- “Abuse is unethical. You are not to blame.”
- “You have no right to be hit.”
- “You are not to blame for their actions.”
- “You have the right to see your loved ones.”
- “Nobody deserves to be spoken to in that manner.”
- “Your priority should be to safeguard yourself and your children.”
- “Abuse is not tolerated by God. He cares about your safety.”
- “Regardless of your decisions, God will not desert you.”
FAQs on How to Help Domestic Violence Victims
Abusers are insecure people who, despite their rough front, are vulnerable on the inside. They usually can dish it out but not receive it. Criticizing or confronting an abuser might lead to fury and vengeance.
If the person doesn’t feel comfortable leaving, you can still assist them in developing a safety plan that they can use if the violence occurs again or if they want to escape later. Simply creating a plan can assist them in seeing whatever tasks are required and help them psychologically prepare themselves.
It is important not to say anything that makes the victim feel like it is their fault or like they could have stopped it if they had done something differently. Do not downplay their story by telling them that many people in their situation have problems. Do not interrogate them as to why they never left the relationship earlier. Do not ask what they did to provoke the abuser or tell them that there are two sides to a story. Saying these types of things will not help the recovery or escape process. You will most likely only be affirming the abuser’s threats and manipulation tactics.