Domestic violence is a very emotional and stressful subject for those that go through it. Victims of domestic violence frequently have very low self-esteem and often will blame themselves for the abuse and make excuses for the abuser. This psychological mechanism can make it very difficult for friends and family to intervene because the abused party sometimes doesn't want help initially. It sometimes takes an extreme incident to jar the victim into taking action to protect themselves. Helping victims of domestic violence requires patience and understanding.
Recognize the signs of domestic violence. If someone you know is becoming more withdrawn, has unexplained injuries or seems fearful of other people in the household, she may be a victim of domestic violence.
Communicate your concerns with the victim and express understanding that she is in a difficult situation. Demanding that she leave her abuser will not help the situation and will make her feel more alone and persecuted.
Listen to everything the victim has to say and be as nonjudgmental as possible. Be supportive and let the victim know that you are available to lend assistance.
Encourage the victim to take part in events and activities outside of the abusive relationship. The abuser frequently will try to isolate the victim from any support system and participating in outside activities can help raise self-esteem and provide more emotional support for the victim.
Provide information for shelters and anti-abuse programs. The victim has to make the decision on her own to seek out assistance, but by providing resources, you can encourage it without being pushy or overbearing.
Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) to discuss the situation with someone who can advise you about the specifics of the situation and provide more advice on how to proceed.
- The girl expresses the emotions image by Mykola Velychko from Fotolia.com