Domestic violence is all about control - the ultimate form of control is murder. A recent FBI report on crime in 1995 found that 26 percent of all female murder victims were known to have been killed by their husbands or boyfriends. It should also be noted that males can be the victim of domestic violence; three percent of male murder victims were known to have been killed by their wives or girlfriends.
For purposes here all reference to "victim" will be in the female tone.
Finding out that someone you care about is being battered in a relationship with a partner or spouse can be frightening, sad and very frustrating. Ultimately, any plan or action for change must come from the battered woman herself. But there are a few things you can say or offer to do.
Be supportive, not judgmental.
She may have hidden the abuse for a long time because of shame, fear or a belief that things would change. Listen to her, even if it is painful; she needs to tell someone who will believe her. No one deserves to be abused.
Do not blame her for the violence or belittle her for not leaving.
The violence is the responsibility of the abuser who often has a controlling personality and rigid expectations. She may have stayed because of economic concerns, or fear of being pursued, or fear for the children. Often she feels very badly about herself and has lost all confidence. Offer your understanding.
Tell her abut the resources in the community.
She may or may not be ready to get help, but at least she knows where she can go. There are counseling programs and shelters for battered women and their children. There are laws to try to protect her, such as the Ex Parte or Civil Order of Protection. Agencies can make her aware of her legal rights.
Let her know she is not alone.
Very often she has been isolated from family and friends by the abuser. Don't give up on her even if she doesn't respond to you right away. She has been made to believe she is helpless.
Make her aware of her options.
In her isolation, she may have given up hope. She needs to be reminded of her talents, her skills, her strengths. Let her know she can rebuild her life an she doesn't have to live in fear. Gently remind her of the safety and well being of her children and that self-esteem and abuse are passed down through the generations.
Discuss a SAFETY plan with her.
She needs to know the warning signs of impending danger and get out before it occurs. A safety plan includes the following measures:
Stash some cash away in a safe place.
Apparel for you and the children
Financial records, bank books, important papers (birth certificates, school & health records)
Escape plan (police, motel, friends, SHELTER); keep extra house and car keys
Telephone numbers where she can get help.
Your support may help to understand her SAFETY is important.
Provide her with more information.
There are books, videos, and handouts from agencies that describe battering relationships, the cycle of violence and how to get help. Be sure the abuser won't find any of the materials. Remember, no one deserves to be abused. Be patient and caring. Don't give up on her. Her life has been chaotic. She has tough choices to make. She needs a friend.
(provided by Anne Arundel County YWCA)
This page last modified Sunday, March 11, 2007
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