Watching someone you love experience domestic violence can be very disheartening. If the person you care for is not reacting the way that you want them to — for example, leaving the situation – it’s easy to become frustrated.
One of the most common reasons that friends and family members of victims become frustrated is because they witness or hear about abusive behaviors happening repeatedly, but don’t see any action being made by their loved one. Witnessing repeated offenses can make it difficult for you to maintain a positive outlook on your loved one’s situation.
Unfortunately, this can have a very negative effect on the victim. Your disapproval may make them feel as if they are helpless and are doing nothing for themselves. They may feel as if they cannot turn to you in times of crisis because you will judge them — if they feel that you aren’t supportive, they might distance themselves from you.
A lot of people lose relationships because of domestic violence.
Remember that abusive relationships are very complex. Abusers often manipulate their victims into believing that they will never be successful, that they will be unsupported or that they will be harmed if they leave the relationship. That can be very scary. Furthermore, abusers often follow fits of rage with periods of kindness in which they are very sweet, apologize and promise not to commit that violence again. That can be very confusing for the victim. Sometimes victims even blame themselves for the abuse that they suffer, telling themselves that if they hadn’t said or done something, their partner wouldn’t have been set off.
Before you pass judgment, try to understand what’s happening in their relationship.
The most important thing that you can do for your loved one is to be there for them when they are in need. Supporting them through tough times will maintain the relationship, but will also provide the victim with a network of care outside of the relationship.
In the spirit of supporting a loved one even when it’s tough, today’s challenge highlights ongoing friendship. DVAM Challenge #8: please acknowledge someone who has always been there for you and shown you support. Say thank you to them and share with us how they have helped you. This doesn’t even need to be related to abuse. If you are sharing your story about abuse, please make sure you do so safely. If you feel that speaking out jeopardizes your safety, please don’t share publicly but rather thank your friend.