Helping a Victim of Domestic Abuse

Nearly all of us have been bullied at some time in our lives, at least briefly, usually as kids by other kids. Too many of us have experienced domestic abuse of some type, whether still in school or well beyond. It’s time to put a stop to it, and that takes all of us supporting each other.

Domestic abuse isn’t always violent, but it is always damaging. It can range from psychological abuse to physical abuse. The person being abused feels trapped and powerless, and has been made to believe that there is no way out. Keep in mind, it’s not always women who are the victims. Though less common, there are men out there who are experiencing domestic abuse, sometimes from a woman, sometimes from another man. Those in the beauty industry are in a unique position for recognizing the signs of abuse and helping to stop it.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline website tells us that domestic violence is also called intimate partner violence (IVP) or relationship abuse and “is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.”

An abuser uses unhealthy methods of keeping another person in the relationship and under their control. These methods can include using coercion and threats, intimidation, controlling the money, making their partner think they are crazy, isolating them from others (because others will recognize the abuse and try to intervene), using children as leverage against them, and even blaming the victim and telling them that they made the abuser do these abusive things to them. The list goes on. If you’ve ever been the recipient of any type of domestic abuse (and I hope you have gotten out of it), then you understand the hopelessness and despair these people are feeling. We should all learn to recognize the signs and know how to help.

If you are concerned for someone you believe may be experiencing abuse, you probably want to help but may not know how to go about it. Here are a few tips:

  1. Let them know that you are aware of their situation and how difficult it is for them. Knowing that they are not alone and that there is help and support available may be just what they need to hear. It can also be helpful just knowing that someone believes them and will listen.
  2. Keep in mind that it’s very difficult to permanently get out of an abusive relationship. A victim may leave and return many times. It’s important to reserve all judgment and remain supportive for as long as it takes.
  3. Once a victim does leave the abusive relationship, they will still need lots of support. They may still feel sad or lonely, and they may even need to mourn the loss of the relationship as if it had been a healthy one. The end of the relationship is not the end of their need for your support. Let them know you still have their back.
  4. As you continue to support them, encourage them to build healthy relationships with supportive friends and family. These better relationships will help them be strong enough to get safe and stay safe and away from the abusive former partner.
  5. Always remember that you cannot “rescue” a victim of abuse. Ultimately, they must decide on their own that it’s time to get out. You can only be there to help and be supportive. You can also encourage them to talk to others who can help such as support groups or private counselors. There are many programs out there designed to help.

Below are some websites listed which have lots of information for recognizing abusive relationships, how to help yourself or others, where to find help, and even where to find safety. Please visit these and other sites and prepare yourself to help someone who needs it. You could be their only avenue toward help, safety and peace.