DOMESTIC ABUSE PREVENTION TIPS
#1 SPEAK: “I’m really worried about you.”The simplest solution to domestic violence is not being silent. Don’t be afraid to let your friend know that you are concerned for their safety. Don’t get discouraged if they refuse or ignore your concerns. Help your friend talk about the violence they are experiencing. Voicing your concerns might help them recognize that what they are experiencing is not a healthy relationship and that they deserve better.
#2 ACKNOWLEDGE: You deserve so much more.”
Acknowledge that your friend is in a very difficult and dangerous situation. Let your friend know that the abuse is not their fault, they should not feel ashamed, they are not alone, and that you are there to help and support them.
#3 LISTEN: “I’m just a phone call away.”
Once your friend feels comfortable to talk about what they are going through, make sure to listen! It is very difficult for victims to find the strength to not only acknowledge but also vocalize their reality. Be supportive. Let them know that you are always available to help whenever they may need it. What they need most is someone who they can trust and feel safe with.
#4 ENCOURAGE: “You are an amazing person.”
Compliment, support and be a cheerleader for your friend. Encourage their confidence. Encourage them to participate in activities outside of the relationship with friends and family. Encourage their independence and desires to stand on their own two feet.
#5 PLAN: “Everything is replaceable.”Help him or her to develop a safety plan. Contact a local shelter, lawyer’s office, start saving some funds and clothing. Arrange a special signal, with a neighbor or a friend, to call 911 if there is immediate danger. Put together important documents including passports, birth certificates, social security cards, insurance papers, work permits or green cards, ownership documents, checkbooks and bank account information. If there are children involved then make sure to include a favorite toy that will help comfort them.
#6 DOCUMENT: “Just in case, we’ve just got to be prepared.”
Document your friend’s abuse by taking photos of bruises and injuries. Obtain copies of medical records. Save any threatening voicemails or e-mails. Write down each incident in your own notebook or journal. If legal action is taken, all of these items will be extremely important to help your friend prove the abuse she endured.
#7 SUPPORT: “I know of a person that might be able to help.”
Encourage him or her to talk with others who can provide professional help and guidance. Call a local domestic violence agency that can help provide resources, shelter, counseling and support groups. Offer to go accompany and support your friend in building their new life. If they have to go to the police, court, or lawyer’s office offer to go along even if only for moral support. It will be a long journey to recovery and healing, so be prepared to support them in any way possible.
#8 RESPECT: “I will always be here for you.”
Do not judge, but respect your friend decisions. You cannot make the decision for them. It is sometimes hard to understand, but there are many reasons why victims stay in abusive relationships. He or she may leave and return to the relationship many times. Do not criticize any decisions made or try to guilt them into leaving.
Helping a victim of domestic violence is a long process! You will get frustrated and feel like you aren’t making a difference, but you are! It is crucial that you support him or her no matter what their decisions may be, and that you help them find a way to safety and peace when they are ready. If nothing more, you are planting the seeds for future conversations and support when they finally do gain the courage to leave.
There are incredible resources available at your local domestic violence organizations, counseling programs and shelters. Search within your local area to find an organization that’s a fit for you.
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