Watching a loved one go through an abusive relationship can be tough. The most important thing is to not give up on them. There are many things you can do to help your loved one stay safe.
Reach out to your loved one and let them know that you are concerned for their safety and well-being. Letting them know you want to help and that you truly care is a big step.
Acknowledge that they are in a difficult and scary situation. Help them recognize that the abuse they’re experiencing is not normal and that is certainly is not their fault. Victims often share that they feel responsible for the abuse, even though we know that is not the case.
Be supportive. Listen and remember that it may be difficult for your loved one to discuss abuse. Let them know they are not alone, and that there is a variety of help and support available. Visit www.familysafetyandhealing.org for community resources.
Be non-judgmental. Respect your loved one’s decisions, even if you do not agree. There are many reasons why victims stay in abusive relationships. The decision to leave the relationship can only be made by the person experiencing the abuse, and many times, they end up going back (victims typically end up going back to their abuser multiple times). Avoid criticism or guilt; they will need your support even more during those times.
Encourage your loved one to participate in activities outside of the relationship with friends and family. Many times, an abusive partner can make the victim feel isolated and manipulate them into thinking their family and friends don’t care.
Recommend that they talk to people who can provide help and guidance. Look up the local domestic violence agencies that provide counseling or support groups. These agencies will also be able to provide safety planning services (including setting aside cash, important documents, a set of keys and a change of clothes, etc.).
Realize that you can’t make them change. You can’t “save” or “rescue” another person. Although it is difficult seeing someone you care about get hurt, they need to decide that they want to do something about it. It is important for you to offer support and help them find a way to safety and peace.
Lastly, remind your loved one that change will create a better, healthier relationship for both partners. You can best help by setting an example – foster healthy relationships in your own life, and focus on open communication and clear boundaries.
If you are in an emergency situation, or witness an emergency, please always call 911. The phone numbers below are resources available to victims, survivors and bystanders of abuse, but should not replace 911.
1. National Domestic Violence Hotline
Call 1-800-799-7233, 24-hour crisis hotline
Chat: http://www.thehotline.org/what-is-live-chat/, 7a.m. – 2 a.m. CT
2. LoveIsRespect – serves teens/young adults experiencing dating violence
Text “love is” to 22522
1. The Center for Family Safety and Healing – Adult Services, safety planning and counseling
614-722-8293 (Adult Services intake)
2. CHOICES – shelter, safety planning, counseling and advocacy
614-224-4663, 24-hour crisis hotline
3. Ohio Domestic Violence Network (ODVN) – shelter services in each county in Ohio
4. BRAVO – serves LGBTQI community
5. Ohio Hispanic Coalition – serves Latino communities