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How To Help Victims of Domestic Violence

Practical actions to help women experiencing GBV

BY Beryl Karimi

Apr 11, 2023, 11:17 AM

It takes a victim of abuse an average of 7 attempts before they leave, and while they are struggling to break free from an abusive situation, and failing, they usually end up losing the support of their friends and their families too because a lot of people are not well equipped to handle the pressure that comes with the back and forth of leaving and going back. 

Most people often get angry at victims because they do not understand the psychology of abuse. They do not know why abused people keep going back so they get angry at them when they do. 

They do not know how to help victims who keep going back so they get frustrated when they do and they cut them off leaving them more vulnerable to abuse.

In a world that is so rife with violence against women, it is important for people to be equipped with this knowledge. While leaving is the main goal, it isn't the only thing. It is important for people to know what they can do for victims of abuse other than pressuring them to leave so here are a few pointers. 

1. Ask Them What Keeps Pulling Them Back.

People stay for different reasons. Before you lash at them for staying you have to understand their reasons without assuming them. So ask. Ask them why they stay. Ask them what it would take for them to leave. Ask them to tell you what would make them feel supported. 

Feeling heard and genuinely listened to can be what makes a victim feel safe enough to trust you to help them leave. 

2. Gift Them Therapy Sessions. 

Physical abuse goes hand in hand with emotional abuse. That is how abusers are able to keep their victims by their side and to free them you have to work on silencing the little voice in their head that keeps repeating every bad thing they have ever been told by their abuser.  

You can help them by reaffirming them but at the end of the day, there are kinds of traumas that can only be fixed by a professional. 

Getting them this help could be what convinces them to leave or what convinces them to never go back. 

3. Offering Them A Place To Stay.

Safe houses exist because most victims of abuse experience financial abuse too. That leaves them with little to no options especially when they have children and very minimal resources. 

Offering an abused person a place to stay until they find their own footing is the most practical solution you can give a person who is coming out of an abusive relationship with no money. It is impractical to get angry at a person for not leaving when you know very well they do not have anywhere to go.

4. Introducing Them To Reading Material.

Stories are the best thing you can ever introduce to someone who does not have a blueprint for what they are going through. They are the greatest teachers in existence as they are born out of lived experiences.

There are times when you just need to hear the lived experiences of people like you to feel less alone. There are times when you just need to hear someone who has been through what you are going through tell you that you will be okay when you make that decision you are afraid of and stories do this.

Introduce them to books and blogs that contain stories of courage. They will feel seen and they will be reminded that it is possible to start over. 

Above all, you must have patience and empathy. Victims of abuse will most likely go back several times before they finally leave. You must have the patience to reaffirm them until they finally break free from the shackles of abuse. 

It isn't an easy thing to do but it is a necessary thing to do.