How You Can Approach A Victim

How to Talk to a Victim of Domestic Violence

Offer Support

Be there if she/he wants to talk or share their feelings. Don't pressure them, but let them know that you are there if she/he needs you.

Listen & Believe

Listen to their story without judging her/his actions. Listen for denial or minimization of danger. Focus concerns on their partner's specific behaviors that seem abusive, controlling or violent. Name the abusive behavior without trashing the abuser. Example: "Never being allowed to spend your own money without your partner's consent sounds like you are being controlled. What does it seem like to you?" Or, "It is emotionally abusive to call someone names to hurt them, or to be told that you are stupid or worthless."

Understand

Respect her/his fears, pressures and needs that she/he identifies. Recognize that they may love or feel committed to their partner.

Provide Information

Take the time to educate yourself about domestic violence and where she/he can go for help. Maybe suggest reading material, support groups and a crisis line number.

Focus on Safety

Ask if she/he has a safety plan. Crisis line advocates or shelter programs can help their identify safety options and planning.

Be Patient

Remember that leaving is a process. Ending a relationship takes time and ending one where controlling behaviors are present takes even longer.

Acceptance

Respect where she/he is in the relationship. Don't criticize their choices. Let her/him make decisions as they are ready and able to do so.

Take Care of Yourself

Understand that it will be a painful experience to watch her/him go through their own process of dealing with domestic violence. Supporting a loved one is scary, exhausting and frustrating. Take time to recognize the effects on yourself. Call a domestic violence crisis line to receive support for your experiences.

Reach Out for Help

Remember that criticisms of the victim's actions become ammunition for the abuser in the effort to turn the victim against her/his support systems. If the confusion, frustration, fear and anger are getting in the way of supporting them, call the crisis line. Hearing someone reinforce the need to support the victim rather than fix their situation will help you get past the urges to charge in on a white horse to save the day.