There are 10 million people affected by domestic violence each year in the United States alone. Unfortunately, not all domestic violence victims are able to escape their abusers and begin a new life free of violence. If you know someone who’s a domestic violence victim, then you’ll want to know how to help.
Knowing how to help domestic violence victims could be the difference between life and death for your friend, loved one, co-worker, or even a stranger. How can you make such a big difference in a victim’s life?
In the guide below, you’ll discover several ways you can help without putting their safety at risk. Continue reading below for more information.
1Know the Signs
Not all domestic violence victims will be vocal about the abuse their suffering from. In some instances, you’ll need to know what signs to look out for. Even if the victim is doing their best to hide any evidence of abuse, you’ll be one step ahead of them by knowing the signs.
Here are a few things to look out for.
- They walk on eggshells around their partner
- Their partner verbally abuses them
- They have bruises and other injuries
- They’ve isolated themselves
- They’re anxious, depressed, sad
- Their partner is controlling or possessive
Remember, these are just a few of the common signs to watch out for. If you know someone who checks off one or a few of these, then you need to begin to watch them more carefully.
2Converse in a Safe Location
Once you believe you’ve noticed signs of domestic violence, or if someone has told you themselves about the abuse, you should plan a date and time to meet at a safe location to talk. Talking to the victim via social media, telephone, or text message isn’t always the safest route to take.
Their partner could be checking all their accounts and phone records. You don’t want to send anything to them that their partner will see and then become angry. A public location, such as a coffee shop or lounge could be a great safe place to talk.
To schedule your meeting, send a text or call and tell them you want to catch up over some tea or coffee. Once there, you can then begin to ask the hard questions.
3Be There When Needed
Keep in mind that leaving a domestic violence relationship isn’t always simple. There could be much more attached to the situation than you know. Victims need to find the right time and place to make the escape, and there’s normally some legal matters to deal with as well.
Because it’s not an easy process, it might be months or years before the victim leaves. Make sure to stay patient and be there when needed. If they call you, answer the phone.
If they ask for help, help them even if you’ve tried before without luck.
4Don’t Judge or Ask Why
Unless you’ve been in a domestic violence situation yourself, it can be hard to understand. People looking in at the situation often wonder why the victim chooses to stay or why haven’t they left yet. The blame is put on the victim, which is what their abuser is doing as well.
When trying to help a victim of domestic violence, don’t judge them or ask them why. This might cause them to refrain from telling you what’s going on. Instead, listen to them, try to understand them, and look for new ways to help.
5Offer Them a Way Out
Although you most likely can’t afford to change their identity for them and move them across the country to a well-secured mansion where their abuser could never find them, there are other ways you can offer a way out. Most victims don’t have control over their finances.
Abusers tend to take control of everything. You can open up a bank account in your name for them to save money in. Their abuser won’t know about the money this way and won’t have access to it.
You can also keep a room in your home available for them when needed or even a couch. If they have certain items they want to store away from their abuser, then offer to hold these items for them in your home. This might include their escape plan, a full disguise, defense equipment, and more.
6Provide Them With Resources
You should also do your best to provide them with some resources. As stated before, there’s a good chance their abuser is tracking everything they do on their phones. Because of this, a simple internet search for abuse resources might not be an option for them.
You can do your own research about programs and therapists that can help, however. There are programs and services for victims. Some programs even offer free services to those in need.
Find these places. Contact a lawyer for them too. There’s a domestic violence lawyer to help those accused of domestic violence and for the victims of domestic violence.
You can also offer child care when needed to ensure any children involved are safe. Anything you can do to make it easier for them, do it.
7Contact Emergency Services
One of the last things to keep in mind is contacting emergency services. This is a difficult decision to make because you never want to cause more trouble or violence for the victim. In some cases, it does help to have written police reports of the violence if it’s ever taken to court.
If you believe the victim’s life might be in danger, then you should contact 911. If you believe there are children involved who could be in danger as well, then you should contact child services. If you contact 911 and children are there, then the officers should contact child services themselves.
If you believe it’s a life or death situation, then never hesitate to make the call.
You Can Help Domestic Violence Victims
Even if they don’t ask you for help, you can help domestic violence victims by using the tips given in this guide above. Be sure to remain cautious and always keep the victim’s safety and best interest in mind.
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