What Can You Do If You Suspect Someone You Know Is Being Abused?
Most people remain silent about the issue of domestic violence. Very few people identify themselves as abusers or victims. Victims may be silent about the abuse because of embarrassment or shame, or for fear that their batterers will hurt them if they tell other people about the violence. Abusers often minimize their actions or blame the victim for provoking the violence. Both victims and abusers may characterize their experiences as family quarrels that “got out of control.”
All of us are bystanders and witnesses to different forms of abuse, and it can be extremely challenging to learn how to help those we suspect are being abused. We do not want to create even more conflict or provoke the abuser. Speaking up on behalf of someone we see being hurt is not always the safest or smartest thing to do. And sometimes the person being abused is not ready to disclose what is happening to them or to draw attention to their situation.
If someone declines to discuss domestic violence issues, consider whether the silence may be due to a fear of the batterer or to cultural, racial, or gender issues which make it difficult to talk about such personal experiences.
A person wanting to help a victim of abuse is best able to do so after first familiarizing her/himself with the challenges posed by the problem. These include emotional, safety, legal, economic, and social challenges faced by the victim. Awareness of safety issues is critical. This web site and its links can be a helpful starting point.
However, there are some things that you can do to help...
This page is geared toward women because the majority of domestic violence
is perpetrated against women. However, it is important to emphasize
that violence happens to others as well—and—is equally unacceptable.