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Six ways you can support victims of domestic abuse


Understanding the different aspects of domestic abuse requires a lot of care, wisdom and empathy. You need to be self-aware so that you don’t find yourself in an abusive relationship. If you’re lucky enough to have a healthy relationship, it’s just as important to be observant of your loved one’s relationships.

It shouldn’t be considered invasive when you have some concerns about certain relationships. Keeping your distance when you spot red flags does more harm in the long run.

Once a friend or relative confides in you about the issues of a relationship, you should be prepared to offer your support in the best way possible.

Below are some of the ways you can be there for a friend or relative who has found themselves in an abusive relationship.

i. Approach the issue carefully

Sometimes we are able to see that something is off in a relationship. Your friend might start being withdrawn, anxious or even fearful of their partner. Their behaviour can gradually change over time and you’ll be able to notice. One common characteristic of victims of abuse is defensiveness. They often deny that the abuse is going on or even protect their partner’s actions because they love them. Because of this, it’s best to strategize how you’ll approach the issue so that they can open up to you.

Approaching the issue forcefully might cause them to shut you out and deny what’s happening. Wrong move!

ii. Listen to them

Once they open up and talk to you about their relationship, it’s important that you pay attention and listen to them. Listening is a very simple but a powerful therapeutic tool. When people have room to vent, they’ll be able to speak honestly about what’s been happening which gives room for recovery to begin. Be as patient as you can so that you understand them better. This is a very important way of showing support.

iii. Be honest with them

As you address the issues your friend or relative is facing, ensure that you avoid sugar-coating things. If you do so, you might unknowingly encourage them to be comfortable in their situation and not deal with it upfront. Part of healthy support is bringing awareness and calling out an abusive partner. Help them understand the different forms of abuse and the impact it can have in the long run. Let them know how you feel about their situation without holding back anything.

iv. Get help

One crucial aspect of helping a victim is consulting a third party. A third party can either be the police, a therapist or even the domestic violence helplines. Find out the contact details of where they can get medical help and psychological assistance. At this time, they might not have the strength to research on these helplines on their own. You should therefore help them reach out to people who are more equipped to handle victims of domestic abuse.

v. Keep an eye on them

In many cases, victims can be pushed to the brink of suicide. It can be heart-breaking when someone you care about hides the impacts of abuse. Also, check-up on their kids occasionally. Children are most affected when abuse is going on at home. Being empathetic and supportive is detrimental for their recovery. It shows that they are valued and cared for even when their abuser has convinced them otherwise.

vi. Avoid blaming them

Victims of domestic abuse are very sensitive and fragile. When addressing the issues, it’s important to be careful on what you say and the choice of words you use. If they feel like they are not being supported, they feel the impact of the abuse even more. It’s likely that they are already blaming themselves for the abuse. Ensure that you show support by reassuring them that it’s not their fault.

Photos: Shutterstock

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