Today I want to direct my attention to those who know someone who is or has been in an abusive situation. Someone who has not experience the fear or the trauma of abuse has trouble relating to the person inside or coming out of this situation. As a friend or family member you may want to help, but sometimes you may make things worse for the victim.
Never approach the abuser– more than likely you will make things worse for the victim. You probably don’t understand why this person keeps going back to the situation. It’s hard to explain the psychological grip that an abuser can have on your friend or family member. Don’t lose sight that the victim may still love their abuser and you may in fact alienate them farther from you. You may ask yourself, why does he or she lies to the authorities and makes it seem like nothing is going on? Because the consequences behind close doors; physically or psychologically, can be worse. You are also may be placing your own safety at risk by doing this.
Support, do not demand- Some people think that pulling the person out of the situation by force is the answer. Until the victim is emotionally ready to take a step, it will not happen. Do not criticize his or her efforts, all you will achieve is for them to retrieve and think that you’re not part of his/her support system as well. The potential for escalated violence and even death increases exponentially the moment a victim tries to get out of the situation, which is exactly the moment that the abuser loses control of the situation. Understand that a victim needs to feel power over of her/his own life again, and the last thing this person needs is another person stepping in to take control. Read more: How to Help a Friend Out of an Abusive Relationship | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_2101401_help-friend-out-abusive-relationship.html#ixzz11mw6GOOc It’s on his/her time, not on yours!
Be part of the plan not part of the problem- That you can do. Be there, support the victim. Educate yourself in matters of domestic violence. Gather and share resources that could help the person who is in or just got out of an abusive relationship. Let the victim know that you can be counted as part of the safety plan and in which way you can be of support; that meaning shelter, emotional, financial, transportation, whatever the case may be. “Dear friend, when you extend hospitality to Christian brothers and sisters, even when they are strangers, you make the faith visible ” 3 John 1:5
Listen without judgment- A victim of abuse is already oppressed by their situation, the last thing they need is someone judging their feelings and emotions. Once again, all you’re going to achieve is for the person to retrieve. This also applies to victims in recovery. Never forget this is not the victims fault. Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender, race, social or financial status, education level or even religious beliefs.
Show honest concern-If you’re not going to be a friend or support, don’t offer it. A victim domestic violence has already been hurt and disappointed by engaging into a love relationship with someone who has or had hurt them physically, emotionally, psychologically or mentally; the last thing they need is someone else added to that list. To show true interest in their lives and in them can make wonders for their sense of trust and safety on their way to recovery. Support is needed and the victim needs to know to trust that you will be there for him/her. Take honest interest in him/her, otherwise, just pray for them and do no harm.
Open your house and heart (if possible) As Christians we are called to help those in need. If someone is finally leaving their situation, look inside of you and see how you can be of help. Leviticus 25:35 “If one of your brothers becomes indigent and cannot support himself, help him, the same as you would a foreigner or a guest so that he can continue to live in your neighborhood. Don’t gouge him with interest charges; out of reverence for your God help your brother to continue to live with you in the neighborhood. Don’t take advantage of his plight by running up big interest charges on his loans, and don’t give him food for profit.”
Never…did I say never…just act or say to a victim…”you’re out now, just get over it! ” No matter how much information you think you have about what went on, you will never have a clue of the depth of this person’s wounds. Be supportive, let them heal. Allow time and God and hopefully your support to get them through this time in their lives!
I read this post and I think it totally exemplifies for those who have never experienced domestic violence how it feels and a way to understand the mindset of the victim or the victim in recovery.
Maggie says:(the question was how to help a friend overcome the guilt of leaving an abusive relationship)
This is all part of the abuse and the control. As long as she feels guilty he is still controlling her. These abusers are consummate actors. If she still has any contact whatsoever with him, then believe me he will be piling on the guilt and portraying himself as heartbroken. At this point he doesn’t have to be living with her to still pull those strings.
Any break up is hard and takes time to get over fully but emotionally abusive relationships are worse because the manipulation that has gone on tends to be deeply ingrained and is very, very hard to get over and resist.
This man has turned her into someone who is reliant on him emotionally and every feeling has been in response to what he has allowed her to feel. If he wanted her happy, he will let her be happy. If he wanted her crying her heart out and feeling like crap, then that’s what she would be. Help her to understand that she doesn’t have to respond that way anymore. Now she is free of him, she can be happy when she wants to be, her emotional life is her own again and under her complete control.
She has to learn to be emotionally distant from him and build up her self esteem and confidence. Someone else has been controlling her for so long.
Get her to seek some professional help. She needs to understand more about how this abuse works to be able to fully get over this man and build her confidence back up. Encourage her to talk. She will not have had the courage to admit to a lot of things to anyone outside the relationship before. Abuse makes you ashamed and one of the hardest hurdles to overcome is to be able to talk openly about what you have been subjected to without feeling that others will see you as pathetic or weak. Emotional abuse can be so much more painful than physical abuse as unlike a punch or a slap, the pain of a humiliating put down or an insult designed to make you feel worthless returns every time you remember. It takes longer for the hurt to fade.
She has been incredibly strong to walk away from this man so build on that and help her to see her strengths.
I hope this helps all of us, help those in pain inflicted by domestic violence…the right way!
DVAM-Domestic Violence Awareness Month
- Therese Borchard: Surviving Domestic Abuse: Advice From an Expert (huffingtonpost.com)
- Domestic Violence/abuse: How to File a Police Report (socyberty.com)