With 2-4 million women being battered each year, chances are you will know a victim of domestic violence at some point in your life -- whether that person is a friend, family member, co-worker or neighbor. Many people want to help, but don't know how to approach someone who they suspect may be in an abusive relationship.
Here are some tips for communicating with someone who may be a victim of domestic violence and experiencing physical abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse and/or sexual abuse.
Respect the victim’s feelings and thoughts even if you disagree or can’t empathize.
Ask questions instead of giving answers.
Assure the victim of confidentiality (when appropriate).
Listen and support without passing judgment.
Move at their pace.
Inform the victim of resources
Suggest safety planning.
What to say...
I am afraid or concerned for you.
Does it bother you/scare you when s/he does that?
I think that would bother/scare me.
Are you ever afraid of him/her?
You shouldn’t have to be afraid.
It seems like s/he is controlling, overly jealous, etc.
Have you thought about leaving?
Have you thought about a safety plan?
You deserve to be treated well.
Acting skeptical or imposing your own judgments, values, and beliefs.
Telling her what she should do; Making decisions for her/him.
Making promises you can’t keep.
Hurrying the decision process.
Intervening beyond your capabilities.
What not to say...
Why don’t you just leave?
Why do you let him/her treat you like that?
S/He is a loser; s/he is no good.
You should just dump him/her.
You don’t really know what love is yet.
It’s not real love.
If s/he loved you, s/he wouldn’t treat you like that.
“You should….” or "If I were you..."
The most dangerous tactic of abuse is to isolate the victim, so communicating appropriately is VERYimportant, but the most important factor that must be considered is that the victim stays safe so that he or she can stay connected!
If you need help or support, please contact the Domestic Violence Initiative immediately: