Help a Friend
It's not easy to know what to do when someone you love is in an abusive relationship. The following steps may help:
Ask, "Are you OK?"
Listen to and believe your loved one.
Allow them to control their own lives. If your loved one does not want to leave or call the police, don't force them to. Instead, connect them with local resources.
Offer your loved one a safe place to stay or help them get to a shelter.
Explore your loved one's reasons for staying and offer to help. If childcare or finances are a concern, for instance, try offering some financial help.
Asking the simple question "Are you OK?" can open the door to further conversations and sharing of potentially life-saving information. A follow-up statement such as "I'm concerned for your safety" can help to create an emotionally safe atmosphere for disclosure. Often both victims and perpetrators of domestic violence deny and minimize the seriousness of the abuse. Fabricated reports are rare and only a small fraction of domestic violence incidents are reported to law enforcement or advocacy groups. Many victims of abuse live in closeted isolation for many years.
We understand that every survivor of domestic violence is an expert in her/their own life. There are many good reasons why victims stay in or return to abusive relationships and the road to a safer life can be a long one. However, survivors can awaken to their own capabilities and potential when walking with someone who will provide support and help them see the possibilities beyond the pain.
If you would like to brainstorm with an advocate how best to help a friend or family member, give us a call at 404-688-9436.