Finding out or suspecting that a friend, work colleague, or family member is the victim of domestic abuse is always horribly upsetting. Figuring out that they have been for a long time and you missed the signs or didn’t know what to do is harrowing.
Local non-profit Emerge! Center against Domestic Violence asks us to take time today to talk about domestic violence, the signs and what to do when we notice those signs. They ask us to consider ‘Where is the line for you?’ Do we step up and say something? Or do we just ignore it and hope it will go away (hint: it won’t).
Take time today over the water cooler, at lunch, with your loved ones to ask the following questions and to check out the suggestions on the Emerge! website. By talking through these scenarios and knowing what we could do, we can’t change the past situations, but we can make a difference in how we respond from this point on.
Where is the line for you?
Questions to discuss:
1. Have you ever been uncomfortable when you heard a demeaning joke, but pretended to laugh anyway? Looking back, do you wish you’d just been honest with the person telling it?
2. Have you ever had a friend or loved one who belittled or mistreated their romantic partner? Did it happen in front of you? Did you know what to say? Do you wish you’d handled it differently?
3. When you read about the signs of abuse in this post, did anything strike a chord? Did you think back to a particular person? Do you now realize they may have been in an abusive relationship?
4. Have you ever had a friend or loved one who you knew was being abused? Did you know what to do?
If any of the above situations happened today, what would you do? Before you decide, know that you should never confront the abuser
Never confront the abuser
Confronting an abuser will definitely put an abused person in additional danger, and could also endanger you and anyone you are with.
You should always call 911 if you witness an active, ongoing assault.
Domestic abuse is a community issue.
Although not everyone is a domestic abuse advocate or counselor, we all have the opportunity to make an impact with the way we respond when these situations come up. When you see an abusive situation, what are your options? Below are some suggestions on the scenarios, find more ideas and suggestions as well as resources on the Emerge! website.
Suggestions for when you suspect domestic abuse
Have you ever had a friend or loved one who belittled or mistreated their romantic partner? Did it happen in front of you? Did you know what to say? Do you wish you’d handled it differently?
Did the person who was mistreated defend themselves? If not, they may be in an abusive situation and may be afraid to respond to the mistreatment. Wait for an opportunity to speak to the person who was mistreated alone. Let him/her know that you value them and do not agree with the way they were treated. Let them know they deserve a partner who is always respectful of them. Try to discern if the mistreatment was an isolated incident or part of a consistent pattern of behavior. Make sure they know that you’re always available to support them and listen, and that you respect their choices.
When you read about the signs of abuse in the last post, did anything strike a chord? Did you think back to a particular person? Do you now realize they may have been in an abusive relationship?
When did you first get the sense that something was off about this person’s relationship? Was it after the fact? Whenever something feels off to you, always make sure to consider that the issue may be one of family violence. Think back to the signs of abuse, do one or more of them fit? If so wait until you have the chance to speak to speak to them privately before broaching the subject. If they deny that they are being abused, let it go, but state your availability to talk in the future.
Have you ever had a friend or loved one who you knew was being abused? Did you know what to do?
In this situation your best option is to wait until you have a chance to speak to the victim privately. Express concern and make sure they know that you value and care about them. Offer him/her your phone to call the Emerge! Hotline (795-4266) or the police. It’s important to respect his/her decision if he/she chooses not to do either. Always let them know that you’re available to speak in the future and make sure they have/know the hotline number.
Click here for more tips.
Call the Emerge! Hotline, it’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is available in both English and Spanish. If you need help, or need to knowhow to help a friend/family member, the Hotline is there for you. Local: 795-4266 Toll-free: 888-428-0101. Learn more at www.emergecenter.org.