Domestic violence is most common among women ages 18-24. Chances are you know someone, or know of someone who is caught in the world of abuse. "1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been physically abused by an intimate partner." Domestic violence becomes more prevalent if we are silent, but together we can speak up, reach out and make a difference.
If you know someone who needs your help, follow these tips to approaching their difficult situation:
Talking with your loved one is a good place to start, but listening is even better. It is usually very difficult for a victim to talk about the abuse, so remember to be patient and considerate when they are expressing their feelings. Add your calming influence to their chaos. Because domestic victimization is correlated with ahigher rate of depression and suicidal behavior, your listening ear can reassure the victim that they are not alone, they are loved and there is hope.
Don't blame the victim
Likely, the victim is already feeling heavy amounts of guilt about their situation. No matter the circumstance, abuse is never the victim's fault. Empower the victim and remind them of the absolute control and power they have over their own life. Grant them permission to take charge of their future and look toward hope.
Help with a safety plan
A safety plan is one way to escape abuser. Helping your loved one make a plan of where to go, what to pack and when to leave can help them find solace and sanctuary in a crucial situation. In critical moments, it may be hard for the victim to think clearly, so having the plan written down or made before hand can help tremendously. The link above can give you directions on making a step-by-step safety plan.
It's important to remember that your loved one may never follow through and leave their abuser. That is their choice. Continue to be supportive if that is the case. You cannot "rescue" a victim. They must decide how to move forward in their situation and where to turn for help.
Providing the correct resources to the victim can allow them to help themselves escape or find a safe haven. While you may not have all the answers or help for a loved one, there are people, organizations and hotlines that can provide victims of domestic abuse with what they need. Encourage them to reach out to these resources.
For help, call: The national domestic violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233 | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).