Helping a friend or family member who is in an abusive relationship can be challenging. If you have noticed that your loved one’s relationship is unhealthy, remember that they need your support. Understand that you can’t fix or change their situation. Only they can choose what to do. For example, if they aren’t concerned for their immediate safety, then you have to respect that.
When talking to your loved one about their relationship, be honest about your concerns, but stay focused on their needs and avoid being judgmental. Say things like, “When you said that your partner did this, that scared me,” and “I’m really concerned about your safety.” Avoid statements like, “Your partner is no good,” or “They need to treat you right.” Don’t talk about the partner directly and avoid attacking your loved one’s actions. Doing this will show your loved one that you care for them and will help to prevent them from feeling defensive.
Ultimately you have to let your loved one make their own decisions about their relationship — even if it means that they choose to stay in an unhealthy relationship. Sometimes it’s difficult to do when you feel that they aren’t making the right choice, but you have to respect them. Try to remember that their abuser is probably controlling them at home and the last thing they want is to have their friends and family try to tell them what to do also.
Regardless of their decision, support them. If they choose to stay in the relationship, help them keep documentation of abuse. You can take notes on a calendar, save a file on your computer or take pictures of injuries. Documentation can be used in court if your loved one ever decides to take legal action against their abuser. You can also help them to find resources in their community or to develop a safety plan.
If your loved one decides to leave, know that the road ahead for them will be difficult. They will need your support more than ever. You can even help them to connect with counselors and survivor’s groups to help them as they move forward.
We often refer people to a book called “Helping Her Get Free” by Susan Brewster. It is a guide for family members and friends of people in abusive relationships. This can be an excellent resource for more in-depth information and tips.
If you have any questions please give us a call at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). We can help you to find resources, safety plan and give you more information about what your loved one is experiencing.
For today’s DVAM Challenge, practice active listening. You can do this for any of your friends or family, no matter what their relationship status is. Truly listen to a friend or family member and concentrate on what it is that they’re saying. Rephrase what you hear them say so that you are deeply engaged in what they are sharing with you. For example, you could say, “I’m hearing you say _____, is that right?” By practicing active listening, we can give better support to those we love.
We had a great first week of The Hotline DVAM Challenge. Here were the challenges so far:
Challenge 1: Commit to the DVAM Challenge
Challenge 2: Share the facts about domestic violence
Challenge 3: Take the quiz and test your knowledge
Challenge 4: End the stigma by sharing the truth
Challenge 5: Know (and share) the signs of abuse
This week, we will be focusing on the role that the support system plays for a survivor or victim of domestic violence.
We often have friends and family call The Hotline asking what they can do for their loved one who is experiencing abuse. This week, we’ll look at how we can encourage healthy relationships to those around us and how we can respond if someone turns to us for help.
Our DVAM challenge for Day 6 is simple but could be lifesaving. Please share our number with your network of friends and family. You could post the message below on Facebook, Twitter or email, or simply reach out to someone you know who may need to talk. If reaching out to a friend/family member, keep their safety in mind and don’t post the message in a place where their partner can see.
Facebook: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, please call The Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) to speak to a supportive and caring advocate.
Twitter: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, please call The Hotline @NDVH at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).
During this week, we have reflected on how information is powerful in understanding and ending domestic violence. Being able to tell the signs of domestic violence is very challenging, especially when it is happening to someone we love or maybe even ourselves.
Please read the following signs of abuse.
It may be abuse if one partner:
– Embarrasses the other with put-downs
– Acts in ways that scares the other partner
– Controls what the other does, who they see or talk to or where they go
– Stops the other partner from seeing friends or family members
– Takes the other partner’s money or Social Security check, makes the other partner ask for money or refuses to give money
– Makes all of the decisions
– Tells the other partner that they’re a bad parent or threatens to take away or hurt their children
– Prevents the other partner from working or attending school
– Acts like the abuse is no big deal, it’s the victim’s fault, or even denies doing it
– Destroys property or threatens to kill family pets
– Intimidates with guns, knives or other weapons
– Shoves, slaps, chokes, or hits the other
– Threatens to commit suicide
– Threatens to kill their partner