Don't be afraid to offer help. Here are some basic steps:
Approach her in an understanding nonjudgmental way. Tell her she's not alone, and that there are many women in similar situations. Tell her it takes strength to survive and courage to trust someone enough to talk about the abuse.
Acknowledge that it is scary and difficult to talk about domestic violence. Tell her she doesn't deserve to be threatened, hi, or beaten. Nothing she can do or say makes the abuser's violence OK.
Share information. Show her the warning list, Violence and Non-Violence Wheels, the Cycle of Domestic Violence. Discuss the dynamics of violence and how abuse is based on power and control.
Support her. Be a good listener. Encourage her to express her hurt and anger. Allow her to make her own decisions, even if it means she isn't ready to leave the abusive relationship.
Ask if she's suffered physical harm. Suggest that she go to the doctor or emergency room to check for injuries. Help her report the assault to the police, if she chooses to do so.
Provide information on help available to victims of domestic violence and their children, including social services, emergency shelter, and legal advice.
Inform her about legal protection that is available with an Injunction for Protection. Give her the information she needs to file the petition; go with her if necessary.
Plan safe strategies for leaving the abusive relationship. Help her create a safety plan. Never encourage a person to follow a safety plan that she believes will put her at further risk. She may not feel comfortable taking the materials with her.
Helpful and validating things to say to a survivor of domestic violence
- I'm afraid for your safety.
- I'm afraid for the safety of your children.
- You're not alone.
- There are options and resources available.
- We're here for you.
- The violence is not your fault. Only your abuser can stop his or her behavior.
- There is no excuse for violence.
- We've learned that domestic violence continues and increases if there is no intervention.
- It is a crime.
- You deserve better than this. No one deserves to be abused.