When you have a friend or family member who is experiencing domestic violence, it is not easy to know what to do. Here are some ways that you can help. Arizona lawyers who specialize in domestic abuse cases will be able to give you advice on how to provide assistance as well. Please note that although the word “victim” is used in this article as a legal term, many people who are or were abused may prefer the word “survivor” when addressed directly.
Recognize Red Flags
It is natural to doubt yourself when you suspect that someone is being abused. It may be easy to spot when someone is being physically abused, because you may see signs of injury. They may try to cover up bruises with longer sleeves or more accessories like scarves or sunglasses.
Victims of both physical and psychological abuse might begin to withdraw from social activities. They may stop answering your calls and texts. You may notice that they often act anxious or depressed and have a more negative image of themselves than usual.
How to Approach the Issue
If you notice some of the signs above, try to bring up the issue when you can be alone with the person. Let them know that you are worried that they may not be safe. Try not to be accusatory, judgemental or overly emotional. Just calmly lay out the facts as you see them.
Then, practice active listening. They may not want to talk about it yet. If they do, let them tell you what is going on from their point of view. Try not to interrupt or tell them what to do. Remember that even talking about abuse is difficult and frightening for them no matter how much the person trusts you.
Understand the Cycle of Abuse
It can be hard to understand why the victim will not just cut ties with the abuser. There are a lot of reasons that this happens. Abusers often try to normalize their behavior and blame the victim. They may act completely differently in front of others than they do when they are alone with the victim. So, a domestic abuse survivor may believe that they are at fault for the abuse. The abuser may control all of the money and property in the home, making it very difficult for a victim to leave. Make sure that you let them know that you believe what they are saying and that they deserve better.
Help the Survivor Make a Concrete Plan
Your friend or family member will need assistance in many areas to escape abuse. First, you need to make sure that the victim stays safe. They will need a place to go where the abuser cannot easily find them. They will also have to have a bag packed with clothes and other necessities, as well as all of their identification.
They will need counseling, housing, transportation and an attorney. Finding a lawyer is especially urgent if they have children because they will need to sue for custody immediately. Reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline to find out exactly what resources are available in your area for domestic abuse survivors. The number is 1-800-799-7233.
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