Maybe we can help you reach your friend, neighbor or co-worker in a non-threatening, professional and caring manner.
My Friend, My Neighbor, My Co-Worker... Is Being Abused
How Can I Talk to Them About It?
Tell them that you have just been to a meeting or read a book about people who get hit or hurt by their partners. You have been wondering if it happens to them.
Understand that people don't identify themselves as abused because they are often blamed for it, i.e., there is something wrong with me if I put up with it. It's my fault and I must be stupid.
Put the responsibility where it lies - on the shoulders of the abuser. There is NO reason for abusing another person.
Stress the fact that your friend is not alone and there IS help available. Give them information on the resources and services for them.
Let your friend know that you are there if they need to run for help.
Recognize and deal with all societal pressures and role expectations on people to keep the family together at all costs, i.e., "It's my duty to stay with my partner. The kids need both the parents, etc." Particularly important are the financial reasons for which a person stays with their partner.
Understand that many people are trapped into these abusive relationships by fear of being murdered or seriously hurt, or losing their children.
What if They Refuse any Help?
Tell them that if they should ever need help they can come to you. Leave the door open for them to talk to you.
Try to suspend your judgment of them. They are surviving their situation as best they know how. Only THEY can know how difficult that is.
Understand that most abused men/women go in and out of the abusive relationship several times before deciding to permanently leave.
Sensitive listening is of utmost importance - the usual experience of abused men/women is that no one listens or takes them seriously.
Recognize and point out that family violence is learned at home, and that it is not healthy for children to live in a violent home simply so that they can be with both parents.
Supporting A Survivor
There are many ways to be an advocate and provide assistance to someone in an abusive situation.
It can be difficult to see someone you care about dealing with the effects and challenges of abuse. Remember: abuse is about power and control. Empowering survivors to make their own decisions can be a great way to start supporting them. Survivors are the experts of their own life and will make their own decisions about their future. It’s important for you to support them no matter their decisions and help them find a way to safety and healing.
Here are some powerful ways you can support survivors:
- Acknowledge their courage in sharing their story. Maintain a non-judgemental attitude and keep their private information safe
- Let them know that they are not alone and that there is help and support available. It may be difficult for them to talk about the abuse.
- Listen to them and their needs. Don’t interrogate them. They may leave and return to the relationship many times. On average it takes someone 7 times before they leave for the final time. They will need your support even more during those times.
- Encourage them to participate in activities outside of the relationship in spaces with people who are safe and supportive. Remember, abuse thrives in isolation. It is a tool used by abusive people to maintain power and control. Helping a survivor maintain and create safe support systems provides a lifeline for them.
- Focus on offering support and connecting the individual with resources
- Help them develop a safety plan & connect to local resources. Connecting with us for information on creating a safety plan for wherever they are in their relationship: choosing to stay, preparing to leave, or having already left.
- Assist them in talking with experts who can provide help and guidance. Our counseling and support groups are great places to start.
- If they have to go to the police, court or lawyer’s office, offer to go along for moral support or connect them to our legal advocate.