Guest post by Sue
Would you know what to say if a friend shared that she was experiencing domestic violence?
When someone you care about opens about her abusive situation, here are some recommended responses that help her know you want to help:
“I believe you.”
One of the best ways to demonstrate your support towards a domestic violence victim is by saying and showing that you believe the information they are sharing. There is no need to question why she allowed the situation to get so out of control. There’s no need to ask questions about the details. Show and tell her that you believe her while offering support in assisting her.
“It takes a lot of courage to trust me with your pain.”
This outreach of confidentiality is not to be taken lightly. Remember you are being trusted with a potential life or death situation.
“Are you safe right now? Here’s the phone number to the local crisis counselor and the local domestic violence shelter.”
It’s ok to provide emotional support, but let the experts do the advising. After a victim decides to leave her abuser can be the most dangerous time for her. Statistics show that across the United States, up to 75% of domestic violence deaths occur after a victim takes steps to leave her abuser. Domestic violence advocacy experts and victim advocacy programs are focused on safety planning and advising a victim during the dangerous time of when she leaves her abuser. Domestic violence advocates work closely with law enforcement and judicial partners in the community to assist in streamlining and expediting the judicial process. Domestic violence agencies assist with counseling, restraining orders, understanding domestic violence, safety planning, and child custody and welfare issues.
“This is not your fault.”
Assure the victim that she doesn’t deserve this and that the abuse isn’t her fault. It’s okay to discuss the abuser’s behaviors as not appropriate. It’s okay to tell the victim that you are concerned when you witnessed the abuser doing something abusive. Comments should reflect what the abuser did or didn’t do; comments should not reflect negative things about the abuser as a person.
About the author: Sue is a domestic violence survivor who endured 18 years of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. After working through her recovery for ten years, Sue took a leap of faith and quit her job to hold true to her calling to assist domestic violence victims in their recovery efforts.