{Guest Column} Domestic violence: What you can do to help

Part Four of Four

By Teresia Reed
Special to the Herald Times
RBC | If you recognize yourself or someone you know as being in an abusive relationship, reach out now. There is help available. No one should live in fear of the person they love. If you’re hesitating—telling yourself that it’s none of your business, you might be wrong, or the person might not want to talk about it—keep in mind that expressing your concern will let the person know that you care and may even save his or her life.
Talk to the person in private and let him or her know that you’re concerned. Point out the things you’ve noticed that make you worried. Tell the person that you’re there, whenever he or she feels ready to talk. Reassure the person that you’ll keep whatever is said between the two of you, and let him or her know that you’ll help in any way you can.
Remember, abusers are very good at controlling and manipulating their victims. People who have been emotionally abused or battered are depressed, drained, scared, ashamed, and confused. They need help to get out, yet they’ve often been isolated from their family and friends. By picking up on the warning signs and offering support, you can help them escape an abusive situation and begin healing. (Source: NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence)
Here are some ways to help a friend who is being abused:
– Set up a time to talk. Try to make sure you have privacy and won’t be distracted or interrupted.
– Let your friend know you’re concerned about her safety. Be honest. Tell her about times when you were worried about her. Help her see that what she’s going through is not right. Let her know you want to help.
– Be supportive. Listen to your friend. Keep in mind that it may be very hard for her to talk about the abuse. Tell her that she is not alone, and that people want to help.
– Offer specific help. You might say you are willing to just listen, to help her with childcare, or to provide transportation, for example.
– Don’t place shame, blame, or guilt on your friend. Don’t say, “You just need to leave.” Instead, say something like, “I get scared thinking about what might happen to you.” Tell her you understand that her situation is very difficult.
– Help her make a safety plan. Safety planning includes picking a place to go and packing important items.
– Encourage your friend to talk to someone who can help. Offer to help her find a local domestic violence agency. Offer to go with her to the agency, the police, or court.
– Use the available resources. There are resources to help and support you.
In Meeker: Call Safehouse 970-878-3131. In Rangely, call Rangely Victim Services at 970-629-9691. In the U.S.: Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233
– If your friend decides to stay, continue to be supportive. Your friend may decide to stay in the relationship, or she may leave and then go back many times. It may be hard for you to understand, but people stay in abusive relationships for many reasons. Be supportive, no matter what your friend decides to do.
– Encourage your friend to do things outside of the relationship. It’s important for her to see friends and family.
– If your friend decides to leave, continue to offer support. Even though the relationship was abusive, she may feel sad and lonely once it is over. She also may need help getting services from agencies or community groups.
Keep in mind that you can’t “rescue” your friend. She has to be the one to decide it’s time to get help. Support her no matter what her decision.

Teresia Rose-Reed

Compiled by Teresia Reed, M.Ed, Safehouse First Responder, Office Manager at Grant Mortuary, Victim Advocate and Grief Recovery Specialist with the Grief Recovery Institute.