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If you know who is being abused..
If Someone You Know Is Being Abused...
You may have a friend, relative, or neighbor who is being abused. You may have witnessed violence, heard it, seen it, seen signs of it, or just suspected it.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
- Ask direct questions, gently. Give her ample opportunity to talk. Don't rush into providing solutions.
- Listen without judging. Abused women often believe their abuser's negative messages. They feel responsible, ashamed, inadequate, and afraid they're being judged. Recognize her successes, instead of criticizing her for what you see as failures. Applaud her for educating herself or for joining a support group.
- Let her know that you support and care about her, that she's not responsible for the violence, that only the abuser is responsible for the violence and that she does not deserve to be abused. There are alternatives.
- Explain that physical violence in a relationship is never acceptable, at any time. There's no excuse for it - not alcohol, not drugs, not financial pressures, not depression, and not jealousy. It is a crime - as much of a crime as robbery or rape - and she can seek protection using the judicial system.
- Make sure she knows that she's not alone - that millions of American women from every ethnic, racial, and socio-economic group suffer from abuse; and that many women find it difficult to leave.
- If she has children, reinforce her concern for them; let her know that domestic violence hurts children also. In fact, you may want to reach out to support her children; let them know that you're there for them too.
- Let her know that, in spite of his promises, the violence will likely continue and will probably escalate.
- Emphasize that when she is ready, she can choose to leave the relationship and that help is available.
- She may need financial assistance or help finding a place to live and to store her belongings. She may also need assistance to escape. Decide if you feel comfortable helping her out in these ways.
- Contact your local domestic violence program yourself for advice or guidance.
- If she is planning to leave, remind her to make a SAFETY PLANfor different situations that may arise. Also remind her to take important papers with her, such as birth certificates, health insurance documents, etc.
- If she remains in the relationship, continue to be her friend; at the same time, firmly communicating to her that she and her children do not deserve to be in this violent situation. View her attempts to leave an abusive relationship as successes. Even if she chooses to return to her relationship, she is succeeding.
- If you see or hear an assault in progress, call the police; however, because these assaults are often very dangerous, do not intervene.
- Realize that she knows her situation best. Support her, without telling her what to do.
Provide her with information about local resources and give her the Betty Griffin House 24-hour hotline: 824-1555, or the Florida Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-500-1119. She can call anytime.
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