Domestic Violence Part 4: How Can You Help

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This is the last in a series of blogs on domestic violence and healthy relationships which we originally posted last year in honor of October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

If you know someone who you think is being abused by their spouse or partner, here’s what you can do to help:

  1. Let them know you are worried about them and want to help. Don't tell them what to do or try to take control of the situation.
  2. Don't blame the victim, imply they did something to 'bring it on,' or tell them they are stupid for staying.  It's hard to understand why people stay in abusive relationships - some common reasons are love, belief the abuse will change, self-blame, and fear that the abuse will get worse if they try to break it off.  But the worst thing you can do if you want to help is to reinforce the idea that they are to blame.
  3. Help them to reduce isolation. Abusers often cut their victims off from friends and family members. Tell them you'll be there for them whether they decide to stay in the relationship or not.
  4. Connect them with a domestic violence advocate who can help them develop a safety plan. Call one of the numbers below to find out what resources are available in your area.

Finally, if you know someone who's being abusive, do not look the other way. Calmly express your concerns about the specific behavior that you see as abusive and make it clear that you do not believe there is any excuse for abusing another person. Suggest that they get help in order to change their behavior, and tell them you will support them in their efforts to change, but will not support abusive behavior. Do not accept excuses, justifications, “laughing it off” or victim-blaming. Call one of the numbers below to find out how to get help for the abusive person.

How to get help:

The Children’s Aid Society – Family Wellness Program   212-503-6842
NYC Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-621-HOPE (4673)
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-699-SAFE (TDD 800-787-3224)
National Teen Dating Violence Hotline 1-866-331-9474 (TTY 866-331-8453)

Photo via www.mysistersplaceny.org