How to Help Someone You Care About
It’s okay to ask for help, and it’s okay to offer help.
It’s estimated that one in four women and one in seven men will suffer from domestic abuse in their lifetime. This could be your mother, sister, brother, neighbor, co-worker, or friend—and YOU can help! Whether someone has reached out to you or you’ve recognized warning signs and suspect abuse, your response can have a major impact on their life.
The following are tips on how to respond
in a helpful, supportive way:
Have Resources Available – Use your phone to store the Emerge! 24-Hour Bilingual Hotline – (520) 795-4266 or (888) 428-0101. Callers can receive emotional support, safety-planning assistance, domestic abuse education, access to emergency shelter, help making an appointment for services and referrals to other community resources. You can also become a resource by lending your phone so they can call the hotline, offering a place to make that call, or asking how you can help.
Be concerned for their safety – It’s important to verbalize your concern for their safety. The goal is to empower them. Remind them that they’re not alone by bringing up the resources you have for them, even if they’re not ready to use them.
Believe them and say so – It takes a lot of courage to ask for help. When someone reaches out to you, it’s important to believe what they tell you, and say so! Avoid being judgmental, discrediting them or minimizing their story. A supportive response will help them feel comfortable seeking additional resources, especially if this is their first time telling someone. If you suspect someone you know is being abused but they’re not ready to talk about it, let them know you’ll be there when they are.
Tell them it is not their fault – Many individuals who experience abuse feel like it is their fault and at times it may even look that way as an outsider to the relationship. The reality is that no one deserves to be abused under any circumstance. By helping them understand they aren’t responsible for what’s happening, you can break down barriers of shame, guilt and isolation.
Let them make their own decisions– Domestic abuse creates very dynamic, complex situations that are hard to understand from the outside, so it’s important to trust their decisions. A person in an abusive relationship may feel powerless. Giving encouragement without forcing any certain choice will help them trust their instincts and also trust you. They know what’s best for them, they just need options and to know they have your support. Then, when they are ready, they can choose what they need to feel safe—and they can take action with you by their side!
Don’t confront the abuser – Though hearing about abuse may cause anger, trying to take control of the situation by confronting their partner can (in some situations) put them in greater danger. Be cautious and respectful with any information you have so that it doesn’t get back to the partner. For example, avoid sending e-mails or leaving phone messages that indicate you know anything about the abuse.
Ask for Help, Too – Knowing that someone you care about is experiencing abuse can be overwhelming, It’s okay to not have all the answers. If you’re unsure of what to say, call the Emerge! hotline or visit us online to learn more about domestic abuse and how you can help.
“Why Doesn’t She Just Leave?”
Domestic abuse can affect anyone regardless of age, sex, financial status, sexual orientation or race.
It can be a lengthy process for someone to decide to get help because of the many barriers to leaving an abusive relationship. Some people don’t leave an abusive situation because…
- They have a realistic fear that the abusive behavior will escalate and become fatal if they attempt to leave.
- Their friends and family may not support their leaving.
- If they leave, they face the difficulties of single parenting and having less money.
- Along with the manipulation, fear and intimidation, there is a mix of good times, love, and hope.
- They don’t have any information about or access to safety and support.
Click here to learn about more barriers to leaving an abusive relationship.