#PowerUp with These Helpful Hints for Talking About Domestic Violence with a Friend or Family Member.
In these times of physical distancing, victims of domestic violence are experiencing increased isolation and fear. It’s more important than ever to stay connected with your friends and family, and check in with them about how they are doing. You can ask them questions like “What is life like for you lately?”, “ How are you and your family coping?”, or “Are you able to have some time for yourself?”
Domestic violence can occur at any age and can happen no matter someone’s gender, sexual orientation, race, or religion. Abuse is a pattern of behavior that one person uses to gain power and control in an intimate partner, family, or caregiving relationship. These behaviors can be physical and/or emotional, such as isolation, name-calling, threats, stalking, and physical, financial, and sexual abuse.
People experiencing abuse are more likely to turn to family and friends than to community professionals. If you’re concerned that your friend or family member is experiencing abuse, it can be difficult to know what to say or how to help. Survivors tell Hope House that what matters most is having someone in their life who is there for them, without judgment, to bounce ideas off, get support, and lean on when things are tough. You can be that person.
When you’re feeling unsure, you can tell them: “I’m not sure what to say, but I’m so glad you told me.” Other examples of supportive statements include: “I believe you,” “I’m so sorry this is happening to you,” and “It’s not your fault.”
You can listen.
You can remember that they are the experts of their own lives. They are doing the best they can given what they’re experiencing. You don’t want to be another person who takes away their power by telling them what they should do. Instead, you can validate and respect their choices. Let them know that you care and will be there for them, by using helpful phrases like: “Thank you for sharing this with me,” “You are not alone,” and “I’m here to support you.”
Please share Hope House’s free and confidential services for people who don’t feel safe in their relationship. People don’t need to be in crisis to call our 24-hour helpline. Anyone can call to simply talk with one of our advocates about what they’re experiencing or how they’re affected by past experiences; to learn about available resources; to get legal help; to discover healthy coping strategies; or for advice on helping a friend or family member. Advocates are here to listen and believe, talk through options, and provide support and resources.
For Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October, Hope House’s theme is #PowerUp. We invite you to #PowerUp by recognizing the difference you can make by making time to connect and offering your support to someone who is struggling in their relationship. Learn more about Hope House’s free and confidential services at hopehousescw.org. If you or someone you know doesn’t feel safe in their relationship, please call Hope House’s 24-hour helpline at 1–800–584–6790.
Jess Kaehny, Community Education Program Manager
Hope House of South Central Wisconsin