With certainty, someone you know is a victim of family violence. It may be a family member, friend, co-worker or classmate. Family violence cannot be shoved under the rug and will not disappear by itself. In order to escape a violent relationship, victims will need help from friends and family.
The following are some signs to look for if you think a person may be affected by family violence and advice on how you can help.
• Bruises, accidents and frequent unexplainable injuries.
• Partner controls their finances, activities, and socializing with friends and family.
• Unexplainable absences from work, school or cancel plans abruptly.
• Speaks less in front of partner, so not to make them angry.
• Partner is constantly looking in her direction and over praising them.
• Lack of self-esteem or no confidence
• Constant attacks or sarcasm in public by partner.
• Fearful, jittery and apologetic in their speech. Gives compliments in abundance to their partner
• Withdrawn from people, usually sits in a corner and avoids conversations.
• Change in behavioral pattern, especially when partner appears.
• Kids display anger and anxiety in a crowd.
• Sometimes, absolutely nothing, just intuition.
HOW TO HELP
• Educate yourself about family abuse and how to address it.
• Reach out to the victim in person and ensure them, “this conversation is confidential”.
• Carefully, choose words which will make them feel safe while addressing your concerns.
• Communicate clearly that the abuse is not their fault and love does not hurt.
• Reiterate what they are saying to you. (“I am hearing that…”)
• Respect the victim’s choice, if they are not ready to talk or listen, let it be.
• Provide them with resources for victims of abuse. Suggest meeting with a counselor or advocate.
• Follow up with them even if they try to avoid you. Remind them you are in support of their decision.
• Be ready to help in any and all situation
• Contact a domestic violence org, not to report a case but to get information for your own use.
WHAT WILL NOT HELP
• Do not start a conversation with others around.
• Do not pressure a victim into talking.
• Do not give your opinion or make judgement.
• Do not EVER say, you are not being a good parent.
• Avoid making negative comments about the abuser.
• Do not make promises
Victims of family abuse chooses to stay in their situations for many reasons. Sometimes the abuser has threatened to hurt them, their children or family back home. They may have been isolated from family and friends and have no one to turn to. One big deterrent is, lack of money. Remember, a major factor of the abuse is control. Controlling the finances, decisions, and clothing are just some of the means to rip away a victim’s self-esteem. While the abuser continuously promised to change without avail, the victim continues to forgive. Victims are sometimes convinced that no one cares and needs to be constantly reminded of assistance and support available.