An estimated 6.7 million adults aged between 16 to 59 have experiences some form of domestic abuse since the age of 16 according to research from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (March 2017) These figures are pretty shocking to me, I knew domestic violence was prevalent but this research shows it happens a whole lot more than I realised. Chances are the victims of abuse are better at hiding it than you think, or perhaps it’s still a taboo subject people find hard to discuss.
Domestic abuse comes in many different forms, but there are certain things you can always do to help support a victim of domestic abuse.
There might not always be signs that abuse is taking place, but if you suspect something is going on it’s important that you make your loved ones aware that you are there for them in any way that you can. All humans have the right to live without fear in their lives, and if you can support them in these ways below, you might just give them the strength they need to walk away.
It can be really easy to pass judgement and just think that they should leave, but in reality there can be a lot of things stopping them. Many people are trapped in violent relationships for practical reasons, through fear and by holding on to the small amount of hope that things will change. It’s important that you sympathise with them and offer them a lifeline for listening. It might not solve all of their problems, but getting just a few small things off their chest can make a big difference to how they’re feeling and hopefully make them see things in a different light. Knowing their not alone can give thme the courage to take steps to leave.
It can sometimes be hard to imagine that the abuser would be able to do such a thing to the victim, particularly if you’ve known them for a while. But it’s important that you offer support for the victim and show that you really believe what they’re saying. Use phrases like, ‘I believe you’, ‘you don’t deserve this’, and ‘it’s not your fault’ to give them some reassurance that you’re really listening.
Be a Safe Place
Whether it’s somewhere they can just talk, or somewhere they could possibly escape to, let them know that yours is a safe place with an open door. They might not be ready to leave, but knowing there is an option can offer a massive relief for them.
Suggest professional help
It might have taken them a while to open up to you, and they might be scared of making things formal with a professional but there are numerous domestic violence charities who can offer support and help. Women’s Aid is an excellent option with a freephone line that can be called at any time of the day or night. Their advisors are trained to help in these situations.
Don’t endanger yourself
Whilst you might feel like you can handle the situation yourself, it’s important not to do anything too rash and put yourself in danger. Even though you might think you’re helping, the abuser might react in a way that you can’t handle. Don’t forget you can always contact a charity or the police for anonymous advice on how to help your friend or family member, you’re not alone either.
Domestic violence is a horrible crime that can shatter lives, if you are a victim then get in touch with CICA UK who can claim from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Association on your behalf.