Domestic abuse is estimated to affect 2 million people every year, according to the Office of National Statistics, yet the police recorded less than 600,000 crimes relating to them in the same year. Whilst the majority of domestic abuse amy go unreported to the police, you can still offer your support to those who are suffering.
It’s important to remember that domestic abuse comes in many different forms, and we might not always be able to see it physically in the form of bruises or cuts. However, if you’re fearful that someone you love is at the hands of an abuser, there are many different ways you can show your support and hopefully give them the strength they need to walk away from the abusive relationship.
How you can offer support for domestic abuse victims
Don’t always try to give advice or fix the problem, just lending a listening ear can be a huge relief for some victims.
Never be judgemental
It can be really easy to give a judgement on them leaving, even if you haven’t experienced it for yourself. But in reality it can take a really long time for someone to up and leave an abusive relationship. So hold off on judging the fact that they haven’t managed to walk away just yet, and offer them the lifeline they need to have someone listen to their problems. Knowing they aren’t alone could give them a boost of courage they need to walk away.
Let them feel what they feel
Watching someone you love in pain can be extremely hard, but letting them express what they’re feeling can be really helpful for them. Don’t say things like ‘don’t cry’ or ‘cheer up’, let them know that it is fine for them to feel sad, scared or angry.
Whether she decides to stay or leave, it’s important that you continue to offer your support. It can be hard to understand why someone might be staying, but there could be many reasons. And if she does leave, let her know that she still has your support because she might be feeling lovely and afraid still now that she’s on her own.
Encourage other activities
It’s important that victims of abuse continue to see their friends and family, and often an abuser will do their best to cut them off from their outside world. It’s important that you do all you can to encourage her to do things outside of the relationship.
Ask them what they need from you
They might not always have an answer for you, but giving them the option shows that you’re being supportive and engaged with their situation.
Make them aware that you don’t think it’s their fault, and reassure them that what’s happening to them is in no way their fault.
Offer professional help
As much as you plan to be there, there is only so much help and advice you can give. Sometimes professional help is needed and she might find it more comforting to speak to a stranger about some things.
It’s also important to make them aware of compensation they could be entitled to, thanks the Criminal Injuries Compensation Association. Claim CICA Compensation to help move on past an abusive relationship.
Abusive relationships are all about control, so it might take a while for victims to realise what’s happening to them, even longer to speak about it, and then even more time before they get the courage to leave. It’s important that you show patience throughout it all and don’t rush them into doing something that they’re not ready for.