Supporting a Loved One Through Abuse
Click here to read this full article in the July issue of River Valley Woman!
Chances are you know someone who is in an abusive
relationship; it could be your friend from college, your co-worker, your
cousin, or your daughter. One in four women and one in nine men will experience
domestic violence in their lifetime. In 2018 alone, Committee Against Domestic
Abuse (CADA) served over 2,000 victims and survivors of domestic and sexual
violence. Advocates at CADA often get asked how someone can help support their
friend or loved one who is in an abusive relationship.
When a friend or loved one is in an abusive relationship,
oftentimes our first instinct is to urge them to leave and get out. Other
initial instincts might be to want to involve law enforcement or to present
your loved one with an ultimatum. When you ask, “Why don’t you just leave,”
your loved one might hear, “I know what’s best.” When you suggest involving the
police, they may be scared because they don’t want their partner to get in
trouble or lose their job. When you say, “I can’t talk to you if you stay with
him,” they may see another support person disappearing from their life.
Abuse is about power and control, so it is important to
offer support in a way that empowers your friend or loved one to make their own
decisions. Here are some ways you can help:
Express your concern
in a non-judgmental manner
One way to start the non-judgmental conversation is to share
things you’ve noticed and express concern. You could say, “I noticed your
partner says mean things to you in front of others. I wonder how they talk to
you when we’re not around. Is there anything you want to talk about?”
Listen and support
It is important to meet your loved one where they are at,
listen openly, and support their decisions. You can continue to express concern
in a non-judgmental manner, but ultimately their choices should be respected.
Many victims and survivors will blame themselves for abuse,
for not leaving sooner, or for not seeing warning signs. This blame is often
mirrored by their abusive partner. One powerful message you can give is, “this
is not your fault.”
You can direct your loved one to a local advocate or victim
service agency like CADA. Trained advocates can provide emotional support,
safety planning, and discuss options with a victim. Advocates can walk with the
victim every step of the way and refer to other services that might be
appropriate for the person’s unique situation.
Having a support
system is important to a victim’s safety. It is crucial for victims to know
that they’re not alone and there are people who will help them.
You can now check out articles from CADA each month in
River Valley Woman!