How to help a friend
How to help a friend

Use the following tips to help support someone in this vulnerable situation.

Use the following tips to help support someone in this vulnerable situation.

1 - Make time for them

If you decide to approach a victim of abuse, do it during a quiet time. To get involved when the moods are warmed may put you in danger. In addition, make sure you book enough time in case the victim decides to open up. If a person decides to reveal years of fear and frustration, repressed, you don't want to end the conversation because you have another commitment.

2 - Start a conversation

You can mention the issue of domestic violence, saying "I'm worried about you because..." or "I'm concerned about your safety..." or "I've noticed some changes that I'm worried about..." perhaps you have seen the person using clothes to cover the bruises, or you've noticed that suddenly has become unusually quiet and withdrawn. Both can be signs of abuse.

Let the person know that you will be discreet about any information that is disclosed. Do not attempt to open; and let the conversation develop at a comfortable pace.

3 - Listening without judging

If the person is willing to talk, listen to the story without judgment, offer advice or suggest solutions. What is more likely is that if you listen actively, the person will tell you exactly what you need. Just give full opportunity to speak.

You can ask clarifying questions, but mainly let the person express their feelings and fears. You can be the first person in which the victim has entrusted to you.

4 - Create the victim

Because domestic violence has more to do with the control than with the anger, often the victim is the only one that sees the dark side of the perpetrator. Many times, others are surprised to learn that a person they know could commit acts of violence.

Consequently, victims often feel that no one would believe them if you speak to the people about the violence. Believe in the history of the victim and say it. For a victim, to finally have someone who knows the truth about his struggles can provide a sense of hope and relief.

Offer to the victim of these warranties:

  • I believe in you
  • This is not your fault
  • You don't deserve this.

5 - Validate the feelings of the victim

It is not unusual for victims to express feelings about your partner and your situation. These feelings can range from:

  • Guilt and anger
  • Hope and despair
  • Love and fear

If you want to help, it is important to validate their feelings by letting him know that you have these thoughts conflict is normal. But it is also important that you confirm that the violence is not okay and that it is not normal to live in fear of being attacked physically.

Some victims may not realize that your situation is abnormal because they have no other relationship models and have been getting used to the cycle of violence. Tell the victim that the violence and abuse are not a part of healthy relationships. Without judging, you are confirming that your situation is dangerous and that you feel concern for your safety.


Reasons why victims stay

It can be difficult to understand why someone you care about seemingly would choose to stay in an abusive relationship or unhealthy. Here are some reasons why it is not easy to separate.

  1. Fear of harm if they are going.
  2. They still love their partner and they believe that will change
  3. Your partner promised to change.
  4. A strong belief that marriage is "for better or for worse".
  5. To think that the abuse is their fault.
  6. Stay for the children.
  7. Lack of confidence in itself.
  8. A fear of isolation or loneliness.
  9. Pressure from family, community or church.
  10. Lack of resources (labour, money, transportation) to survive by themselves.

6 - Provide specific support

Help the victim to find support and resources. Searches for the phone numbers of shelters, social services, attorneys, counselors or support groups. If they are available, offering brochures or pamphlets on domestic violence.

The important thing is to let them know that you're there for her, available at any time. Just tell what is the best way to contact you if you need help. If possible, volunteer to accompany her in search of moral support to the police, the court or the attorney's office.

7 - help her to form a safety plan

Help the victim to create a safety plan that can be implemented if the violence were to occur again, or if you decide to leave the situation. Only the exercise of making a plan can help them visualize what steps are necessary and prepare psychologically to do so.

Because the victims who leave their abusive partners are at a higher risk of being killed by her abuser that remain, it is extremely important that a victim has a plan of custom security before a crisis occurs or before you decide to leave.

Help the victim to think about each step of the safety plan, weighing the risks and benefits of each option and the ways to reduce the risks.

Be sure to include the following in the security plan:
  • A safe place to go in case of an emergency, or if they decide to leave the house.
  • An excuse ready to go if they feel threatened
  • A key word to alert family members or friends that you need help.
  • An "escape bag" with cash, important documents (birth certificates, social security cards, etc), keys, toiletries and a change of clothes that can be accessed easily in a crisis situation.

  • A list of emergency contacts, including family members or trusted friends, local shelters, and a direct line of domestic abuse.
What NOT to do

Although there is not a right way or wrong way to help a victim of domestic violence, you should avoid doing anything to worsen the situation. Here are some "do not" experts suggest that you avoid:

  • Hit the abuser. Focus on the behavior, not personality.
  • Blame the victim. That is what makes the abuser.
  • Underestimate the potential danger to the victim and to yourself.
  • Promise any help that you can not meet.
  • Give conditional support.
  • To do anything that might provoke the abuser.
  • To push the victim.
  • Just give up. If you are not willing to open up at first, be patient.
  • Do anything to make it more difficult for the victim.

8 - When to call the police

If you know that the violence is actively occurring, llama 9-1-1 immediately. If you hear or see that it is causing physical abuse, call the police. The police is the most effective way to remove the immediate danger to the victim and their children.

There are situations in which you need to leave the children in a situation of violence. Do whatever is necessary to ensure their safety, even if that means going against the wishes of the victim or the wishes of the abuser.

In situations of active violence, call child protective services is not the problem, it is part of the solution.


9 - A word of “All is well”

Even if your natural impulse may be to "rescue" someone who cares of domestic violence, the person who is being abused should make the final decision of whether (and when) to go and look for help.

Having this in mind will help ensure you support regardless of their decision and continue to provide a loving friendship and safely.

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