Domestic Violence affects both men and women. However, approximately 95% of all domestic violence incidents involve women; therefore we will be referencing the victim as "she" and "her."
her in an understanding, non-blaming way. Tell her that he/she is not alone, that there are many people in the same kind of situation, and that it takes strength to survive and trust someone enough to talk about the abuse. Let him/her know that her feelings are reasonable and normal. It is common for her to feel frightened, confused, angry, sad, guilty, hopeless, or numb.
that it is scary and difficult to talk about domestic violence. Tell her she does not deserve to be threatened, hit, or beaten. Nothing she can do or say makes the abuser's violence okay.
information on help available to abused women and their children, including social services, emergency shelter 24 hour hotline, counseling services, and legal advice. (Remember that communities respond differently to this issue.)
her as a friend. Be a good listener and believe her even if the incidents seem incredible; listen, respect and validate her experience. You may be the first one to do so. 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. Acknowledge and support her for talking about the abuse. Let her know you appreciate what she has done by talking about the abuse she has been experiencing. Violence may, and often does, escalate when the silence is broken.
her with the danger. At some point, you may find it difficult to be supportive of your friend if she remains in the violent relationship or returns to the abuser after a temporary separation. Let her know that not everyone lives with abuse. Help her face up to the dangerous reality of living with an abusive partner. Don't blame her for the abuse. (Remember, no one deserves to be hurt.) Tell her you care about her and her safety. Give her the emotional support that she needs to believe that she is a good person. Help examine her strengths and skills. Emphasize that she deserves a life that is free from violence.
your friend to develop a plan to protect herself and her children, but let her make the decision. Leaving is a process. She knows the abuser and the potential for danger better than anyone else. Help her think through some steps she should take if her partner becomes abusive again. Make a list of people she can call in an emergency. Suggest that she put together and hide a suitcase of clothing, personal items, money, social security cards, bank books, children's birth certificates and school records, and other important documents.
information. Show her a list of warning signs, violence and non-violence wheels. Discuss the dynamics of violence and how abuse is about power and control.
if she has suffered physical harm. Go with her to the hospital to check for injuries. Help her report the assault to the police, if she chooses to do so.
that assist abused women not only offer safety, but also provide advocacy, support, and other needed services. They might help with protection orders, as WAVI does, or refer her to someone who can help her. If the first person she contacts is not helpful, she should be encouraged to find assistance elsewhere.