6 Ways to Help a Loved One in an Abusive Relationship
A recent report by the World Health Organization indicates that almost one in three women around the world have experienced physical or sexual violence at least once in their lifetime. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in three men have experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime. Statistically, this means that you likely know someone who has experienced or will experience domestic violence.
Here are some tips on helping someone you care about who has disclosed to you that they’re in an abusive relationship.
1. Be supportive
Start by believing. Often, a victim’s number one fear is that they won’t be believed if they choose to share their experience. It is not our place to investigate. Believe them.
2. Don't judge
Respect their decisions. There are many reasons victims feel trapped in abusive situations or return to them. Do not criticize or try to guilt them into leaving. They are doing the best they can to protect themselves and/or their children.
3. Stay engaged
Continue to encourage them to stay involved with friends, family, and other outside activities. Isolation is a key component of an abusive relationship, so even if your loved one frequently fails to show up, keep checking on them.
4. Plan for safety
Help your loved one to develop a comprehensive safety plan. There are many resources for doing so online. We also help with safety planning at Palomar. Talk through how they will stay safe in their home or escape a dangerous event if they have to. Offer to provide a safe place to go.
5. Encourage assistance
Talk to them about their options. In the Oklahoma City Metro, they are always welcome to call or visit Palomar, 8am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. They can also call the Safeline at 1-800-522-SAFE 24 hours a day to learn about VPOs, advocacy, relocation assistance, civil legal assistance, counseling services, and more.
6. Resist "rescuing"
While it is always difficult to watch someone you care about suffer through abuse, you alone cannot save them from it. Only they have the power to make the decision to get help and get away. It’s important for you to support them through their struggles and respect whatever decisions they make, and help them find a way to safety when they are ready.