Determining what to say or do is very difficult when you suspect or know that someone is being abused physically, verbally or emotionally. It's normal to struggle with some of these common questions: Do I ask about it? Do I offer to help? Will he/she get mad and think I am interfering or overreacting?
If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, speak up! If you're hesitating--telling yourself that it's none of your business, you might be wrong, or the person might not want to talk about it--keep in mind that expressing your concern will let the person know that you care and may even save his or her life.
*Adapted from NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence. http://www.opdv.ny.gov/help/fss/contents.html
Talk to the person in private and let him or her know that you’re concerned. Point out the things you’ve noticed that make you worried. Tell the person that you’re there, whenever he or she feels ready to talk. Reassure the person that you’ll keep whatever is said between the two of you, and let him or her know that you’ll help in any way you can.
Remember, abusers are very good at controlling and manipulating their victims. People who have been emotionally abused or battered are depressed, drained, scared, ashamed, and confused. They need help to get out, yet they’ve often been isolated from their family and friends. By picking up on the warning signs and offering support, you can help them escape an abusive situation and begin healing.
Victims may fear threats, harassment, or retailiation by the abuser. Victims may hesitate to seek help from law enforcement out of fear that the abuser will be imprisoned and there will be no other means of financial support. The abuser may have promised to never assault him/her again. The victim may feel guilty for causing the abuser's arrest. The victim may also not understand the criminal process and may mistrust the system. Many victims are concerned that they might be on trial.
Time Out's lay legal advocacy service helps victims to maneuver the criminal justice system, ensure victim's rights, and seek measures to guard one's safety now and in the future. Call today for more details.
You can help victims of domestic violence with compassionate support, validation of their feelings, offering options, planning for safety and assisting them in making decisions about what is right for them and their family.
Please give them the number to our 24-hour hotline: 928-472-8007. We stand ready with a trained staff and volunteers offering support, crisis intervention, safety options, information and referrals.
*Adapted from The Domestic Violence Center and Sarah Buel's Prosecuting Batterers Without A Witness Workshop, Tulsa, OK, February, 1994.