Do You Know Someone In An Abusive Relationship?
*Since the overwhelming majority of victims are female, we have written this safety plan as if the woman is the victim and the abuser is a man. However, victims and perpetrators can be either sex, and domestic violence occurs in same-sex relationships.
Remember: You Are There For Her
- Believe her. She has been told many times no one will believe her.
- Don’t judge her (you are not in her situation.)
- Avoid telling her that she needs to leave (she already knows that she needs to leave but she does not feel she can); instead, discuss a safety plan.
- Don’t talk bad about the abuser (that might drive her away or make her feel she has to defend him.)
- Assure her you will keep what she tells you confidential. (This will help you gain her trust so she will be more likely to call you if she finds herself in a serious situation, e.g., trying to escape.)
- Ask her what the situation is like for her. (Her abuser may: emotionally, sexually, financially, or physically abuse her; make rules that are forever changing; punish her for breaking his rules; criticize her; humiliate her; prevent her from seeing or calling family or friends; accuse her of lying or being unfaithful; force her to do things she does not want; monitor what she does and what she spends money on; destroys the things she cares about; blame her for his misdeeds; insult her, call her names; tell her friends, family or neighbors nasty things about her; threaten to hurt or kill her, the children or those she loves (including pets), or to kill himself; threaten to put her in a mental hospital; falsely accuse of drinking or using drugs, or force her to do illegal things.)
If It Is Safe For You
You could offer to let her store some emergency things in your home (only if no one in your household will tell her abuser). These items can include things she may need in case she would need to leave quickly; an extra set of keys, extra clothing, important financial documents, birth certificate(s), important phone numbers, medical information, etc.
Let Her Know
- Crossroads Crisis Center is a domestic violence agency with a 24/7 anonymous crisis line.
- This is not her fault; no one deserves to be abused.
- You are afraid for her safety and the safety of her children.
- Even if the abuser apologizes, it does not mean he will stop abusing her.
- Alcohol does not cause abuse; many alcoholics never abuse, and most abusive alcoholics stop drinking and continue to abuse.
- More times than not the abuse will escalate.
- She is not alone, you will be there to help her, or to help her find others who can help her (be realistic.) Pick a code word that she can use with you if she needs you to call the police for her.
- That abusers usually snoop on their victims to learn what they are doing and who is supporting them. With today’s electronic security he may even have bugged her phone, computer, or put GPS on her car so that he will know everywhere she goes.
- That her abuser will most likely try to isolate her from anyone who is supportive of her (including her children and you.)
- The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically; however, the one constant component of domestic violence is one partner’s consistent efforts to maintain power and control over the other.
Domestic violence is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community regardless of age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality. It is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior that is only a fraction of a systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence can result in physical injury, psychological trauma, and in severe cases, even death. The devastating physical, emotional, and psychological consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and last a lifetime.