According to National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCAD), 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will be victims of serious physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. If you suspect or know someone is being abused, you may be unsure about how to help. Letting the person know you care can help them feel less alone and afraid. A domestic violence lawyer offers advice on some other steps you can take to help.
Listen Without Judgment
Many victims feel ashamed or embarrassed about revealing that they are being abused. Listen without judgment and allow your loved one to talk about what is happening without offering advice. Let them know that you believe them, that they are not alone, and that they do not deserve to be abused. Also, make it clear you are willing to help if they want you to. Just knowing that another person is listening can empower a domestic violence victim to take action.
Help Them Find Resources
You can help an abused victim find support and resources by giving them phone numbers and websites for local support groups, shelters, counselors, social services, and domestic abuse lawyers. It is also helpful to obtain information about domestic violence and child custody laws, and about how to get a Protection from Abuse order (PFA). Calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 can help you find local resources for a loved one.
Help Them Create a Safety Plan
Domestic violence victims who leave their abusive partners are at a greater risk of being killed than those who stay. It is critical to help them put a safety plan in place should a crisis occur or they decide to leave. Discuss each element of the safety plan, and discuss ways to reduce the risks in specific situations. A domestic violence safety plan should include the following:
- A safe place to go if there is an emergency or if they leave their abuser
- A list of emergency contacts, which may include the numbers for the domestic violence hotline, trusted friends and family members, and local shelters and social services
- A code word to alert friends and family that help is needed
- An “escape bag”, which should include cash, important documents such as birth certificates and social security cards, copies of house and car keys, clothes, and toiletries. If the victim has children, they may want to include a favorite toy as well.
- Most domestic violence victims do not want to leave their pets behind. Making arrangements for a trusted person to care for their pets if needed can help assuage some of their fears.
When to Call the Police?
If you hear or see someone being abused, call 911. Although an abused person may not want to get the police involved, it is the most effective way to keep the victim and their children from being harmed. Children should never have to stay in a violent situation. Even if it goes against the wishes of the victim or the abuser, do whatever it takes to ensure the children’s safety, including calling the police and child protective services.
Whether you are a victim of abuse, want to help someone you care about, or need a domestic violence defense lawyer because you have been wrongly accused, our dedicated and compassionate legal team is here for you.