Helping Loved Ones

If you are concerned that someone you care about is experiencing abuse, we are here to help you learn more about how to identify abuse and resources available to you.

Domestic Violence (also known as dating abuse) is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.  Domestic Violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person (DOJ, 2016).

Domestic Violence Wheel
Using Coerscion and Threats Using Intimidation Using Emotional Abuse Using Isolation Minimizing, Denying and Blaming Using Children Using Male Privilege Using Economic Abuse

Using Coerscion and Threats

  • Making and/or carrying out threats to do something to hurt her/him
  • Threatening to live her/him, to commit suicide, to report her/him to welfare
  • Making her/him drop charges
  • Making her/him do illegal things

Using Intimidation

Making her/him afriad by using actions, looks, gestures
Smashing things
Destroying her/his property
Abusing pets
Displaying weapons

Using Emotional Abuse

Putting her/him down
Making her/him feel bad about herself/himself
Calling her/him names
Making him/her think she's/he's crazy
Playing mind games
Humiliating her/him
Making her/him feel guilty

Using Isolation

Controlling what she/he does, who she/he sees and talks to, what she/he reads, where she/he goes
Limiting her/his outside involvement
Using jealousy to justify actions

Minimizing, Denying and Blaming

Making light of the abuse and not taking her/his concerns about it seriously
Saying the abuse didn't happen
Shifting responsibility for abusive behavior
Saying she/he caused it

Using Children

Making her/him feel guilty about the children
Using the children to relay messages
Using visitation to harass her/him
Threatening to take the children away

Using Male Privilege

Treating her/him like a servant
Making all the big decisions
Acting like the "master of the castle"
Being the one to define men's and women's roles

Using Economic Abuse

Preventing her/him from getting or keeping a job
Making her/him ask for money
Giving her/him an allowance
Taking her/his money
Not letting her/him know about or have access to family income

Warning Signs

  • Their partner puts them down in front of other people
  • They are constantly worried about making their partner angry
  • They make excuses for their partner’s behavior
  • Their partner is extremely jealous or possessive
  • They have unexplained marks or injuries
  • They’ve stopped spending time with friends and family
  • They are depressed or anxious, or you notice changes in their personality

If someone you care about is being abused, it can be difficult to know what to do.  Your instinct may be to “save” them from the relationship, but it’s not that easy.  After all, there are many reasons why people stay in abusive relationships and leaving can be a very dangerous time for a victim.  Be sure to approach your loved one at a time and place that is safe and confidential.  Be prepared for your loved one to react in ways you may not expect.  They may be in denial, they may self-blame and feel ashamed, and/or they may be ready to go into graphic detail.  Keep in mind when you approach them, that you’ve had time to prepare for this conversation and they have not.

Abuse is about power and control, so one of the most important ways you can help a person in an abusive relationship is to consider how you might empower them to make their own decisions.  You can offer support in various ways:

Start by believing. Acknowledge they are in a very difficult and scary situation, be supportive and listen.

A person who has been abused often feels upset, depressed, confused and scared. Reassure them that these feelings are normal, they are not alone, and there is help and support out there. It may be difficult for them to talk about the abuse.

Let them know that you are available to help whenever they may need it. What they need most is someone who will believe and listen.

Respect their decision.

Respect your friend or family member’s decisions. There are many reasons why victims stay in abusive relationships. They may leave and return to the relationship many times. Leaving can be the most dangerous time in an abusive relationship. Leaving takes thoughtful planning, requires established support and needs to be done safely, especially when there are children involved. Do not criticize their decisions or try to shame them. They will need your support even more during this time.

If they end the relationship, continue to be supportive of them.

Even though the relationship was abusive, your friend or family member may still feel sad and lonely once it’s over. They will need time to mourn the loss of the relationship and will especially need your support at that time.

Encourage them to participate in activities outside of the relationship with friends and family

Support is critical and the more they feel supported by people who care for them, the easier it will be for them to take steps necessary to get and stay safe away from their abusive partner. Remember that you can call the hotline to find local support groups and information on staying safe.

Help them develop a safety plan

People are always welcome to come to Palomar and get a specialized safety plan. Or, they can create a safety plan on-line specific for wherever they are in their relationship – whether they’re choosing to stay, preparing to leave, or have already left at: http://www.thehotline.org/help/path-to-safety/

Encourage them to talk to people who can provide help and guidance

At Palomar, our partners provide wrap around services, support groups, counseling and advocacy. Encourage them to call us at 405.552.1010 or they can walk in and speak with us anytime, M-F 8am-5pm. You and your loved one are not alone. Your loved one can meet with YWCA advocates to develop a safety plan here at Palomar, or call the state SafeLine at 1-800-522-7233.

Remember, it’s their decision

Although it is difficult to see someone you care about get hurt, ultimately they are the one who has to make the decisions about what they want to do. Self-empowerment may take longer than you want. It’s important for you to support them no matter what they decide. It is so important to let the victim determine the next steps, to make their own decisions and take back the power and control over their own lives.

Let them know you are concerned

By being supportive and caring, you are doing a lot. Focus on the individual and family while you’re speaking to them, not the abusive partner.
“I am afraid for your safety”
“I am afraid for the safety of your children”
“It will only get worse”
“I am here for you”
“You don’t deserve to be abused”
“It is not your fault”