Trigger warning :: This article could be triggering to anyone who has experienced domestic violence.
I am a survivor of domestic abuse. I have also worked one-on-one with survivors as a former advocate. I would always hear from people. “I could not do that job . . . is it not hard?” “How do you listen to those stories every day?”
I have always thought “Well, if we were all advocates, this could potentially make domestic violence a distant memory.” Once, I even answered someone with: “It is even worse for me hearing the stories on the news when it is too late.”
Even though I no longer work in those trenches daily, the cause is and always will be with me.
As a true supporter, we should all be some form of an advocate. It feels like an appropriate time to share ways you can support and advocate for a survivor.
1. Know the Signs
What is abuse and what does it look like? We mostly think of abuse in the physical form. But it is the emotional abuse that is most often missed. It likely transforms. Constant worry about missing their significant others’ calls or texts could be a sign they are constantly monitored and must respond at all times. This is not healthy behavior.
There’s an inability to enjoy time outside of their significant other and are constantly worried about the time. These are just a few signs, but learning about power and control will give you a better idea of what to look for in an unhealthy relationship.
>> RELATED READ :: Understanding Domestic Abuse in North Texas <<
2. Be There (Even When It Is Challenging)
Survivors need support! One of the leading tactics for abusers is isolation. They use this to isolate their victim, so they have no one else besides them to rely on. As a supporter, you may witness the survivor leave and go back and leave and go back MANY TIMES.
It is imperative we still try to be there and be supportive and help your friend create a safety plan. A part of being supportive is also reminding the survivor of a healthy relationship and what that looks like. We must supportive and remindful.
3. Know the Resources
There are many resources available to help survivors. Being aware of at least one resource could help someone. We have a phone at our fingertips that we can search within moments, but we have to be careful when sharing these resources with survivors.
Many times, it is not safe to share resources with survivors through normal digital resources like texting because an abuser could be monitoring. Face-to-face may be the best way.
If you are interested in learning about the resources available in Texas, please visit Texas Council on Family Violence. The website offers help and resources for survivors and offenders.
4. Never Put Yourself in Harm’s Way
The decision to help someone who is being abuse could potentially be a dangerous one. This is why it is important to keep yourself safe in those situations.
Call authorities if needed. Never put yourself in danger when helping someone.
Prevention is paramount to supporting domestic abuse victims. We spend so much time combating the issue, but we should spend just as much time — if not more — trying to prevent the issue.
But how exactly can we prevent domestic violence? Well, we can start by teaching our peers and children about developing healthy relationships. The importance of a healthy relationship and how a significant other should be in a healthy relationship. We teach them how to handle anger in a healthy way and how to navigate conflict amongst their peers.
>> RELATED READ :: 5 Relationship Questions to Ask Your Teen <<
Most local shelters have a prevention specialist who is trained in having these conversations and with resources. Also, Love is Respect is a good resource for ages 13 – 26, or really anyone who is wanting to learn.
If you or someone you know needs help, please visit Safehaven of Tarrant County or call Safe Haven’s hotline at 1-877-701-7233.