This article was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.
When you suspect a friend or family member is experiencing domestic violence, it can feel challenging to try to find out how to approach them, confirm, and get them the support they need. While there are organizations that help victims of domestic violence, it can still be a difficult time for them to come to terms with their situation and get out themselves. If you’re looking to provide support, it’s important to understand first how to recognize the signs, encourage them to express themselves, and get help from the right people.
Recognizing The Signs
The signs of domestic violence aren’t always easy to detect. It’s also important to remember they’re not just physical. Injuries like a busted lip, bruised eyes and arms, or a sprained wrist may be indicators but there are also emotional and behavioral shifts that can imply they’re experiencing abuse; this person’s personality may change gradually, resulting in them becoming more apologetic or fearful and they may develop worsened anxiety and depression. Their self-esteem may deplete and their eating and sleeping habits could worsen. Other signs can be detected in their behavior: gradually becoming more distant or isolated, regularly running late or canceling plans, and becoming defensive and secretive about their private life.
If you’re concerned someone may be experiencing domestic violence, it’s important to remember that they are most likely in the middle of a very precarious and difficult situation. Simply “getting out” of the relationship is often not an option they can choose – they may have even tried to leave, which is often what triggers physical abuse after emotional and mental abuse. There are a number of reasons they may be unable to leave: fear, low self-esteem, and isolation are some of the most common but they may also feel pressure from others or they could believe their partner may change, especially if they’re still in love with them. They could believe the abuse is their fault and they’re the one that needs to change. That’s why it’s crucial to try to understand their situation to provide the best support you can.
Open Up Conversation
One of the main ways you can help someone experiencing domestic violence is to simply be there for them. Getting involved or attempting to insert yourself into the situation can not only potentially worsen the issue and create distance between the two of you, but it may also result in someone getting hurt. As such, most times the best way you can lend support is by letting them know they can trust you and talk about things.
The pillar of building this trust is by listening without judgment. Allow them to control the conversation and express themselves without inputting your opinion or displeasure about something. In many cases, an abuser will convince their victims that they’re alone and cultivate a negative inner voice so they feel helpless and dependent on their abuser. Encourage your friend when they confide in you, remind them of their strengths and self-worth, and help them feel comfortable expressing themselves.
Support For Everyone
It’s important to remember that sometimes the best way to help someone else is by also helping yourself. Finding guidance from a mental health care professional gives you the opportunity to open up about the situation in a safe, confidential space. While they can offer professional advice on the situation, they can also provide support for any emotions or stress you nag be experiencing during this time. These experienced professionals may also be able to give you additional resources to pass along. Such as recommending counselors, support groups, and, if need be, the right authorities to contact.
With the advancements in research and technology in recent years, it’s now easier to find accessible and affordable mental health care that works for you. Treatment, medication, and professional advice are all aspects that can help an individual through challenges and difficult periods in their lives. Online resources such as BetterHelp can connect clients with a variety of mental health care providers that may be able to assist someone going through domestic violence.