Sometimes all a victim has left, is their own voice. Abusive acts can have devastating effects on a victim, regardless of how long the abuse has occurred. What is relevant and important to the victim is what matters most. It is very common for a victim to hesitate or not share the facts about the abuse because of the uncertainty of their future. They may question whether or not it is safe for them to speak out about their abusive partner. They may not know how to put their situation into words that make sense to the outside world. During this vulnerable time, support and empathy is needed from those within their circles, right where the victim stands in their journey.
Coming forward with the truth of their relationship can be a terrifying, embarrassing, or humiliating task requiring much courage and faith in the strength of the support available to them. One of the tactics of control abusers will use to minimize the voice of their partner is to act in ways that support the lie that no one will believe their story. They may say things like, “Look at your past! Who would believe YOU?” or “No one will take your word over mine. I have connections that YOU don’t have.” When there is a glimmer of hope, a victim may decide that you are a safe person to share their story with. If this happens, don’t panic. You can do this! You can support them!
The following actions can serve as a means to help someone who shares their story with you:
- Allow their voice to be heard by listening to what they are trying to share
- Create space for them to safely express their emotions
- …then listen some more
- Ask the victim if they would like you to be part of their plan to become safe
- Ask them if there is any area where they do not feel supported
- Share information with them about community services available to support their choice for safety
- Value their safety by keeping information private
- Remember, it’s not up to us to determine who is at fault or who is to blame
- Focus on building support and safety
- No one can be “fixed” but victims can become safe and offenders can be held accountable
Whether you are a direct victim of abuse or a supportive friend or family member, Care Lodge has free services offered by professionals who care about the safety and welfare of all who are impacted by the crime that is domestic violence.
If you need help escaping from an abusive home environment, consider calling Care Lodge today at 601.693.4673 and speak with an advocate who can help you plan your exit strategy.
Want to dive deeper into this topic? Check out this link to a survivor @speak766's blog HERE