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How To Help People Experiencing Domestic Abuse

Do you think somebody you know might be suffering from domestic abuse? Or have you found out that somebody you are close to has been and is leaving the situation? What ever the reason you are here you are already helping. You might feel a little helpless in this situation but believe me sympathising and trying your best to understand means so much to people who are in this situation, even if they don’t know it just yet.

It has never been so important to stand up and do something, with everybody in lock down and abuse at an all time high with sufferers quite literally locked into their home with their abuser day after day they are becoming even more of a target and the amount of people currently losing their life to domestic violence and abuse has jumped drastically. If you do nothing it could be your friend, loved one or family that is next.

Don’t refer to them as a victim

Using this term gives the feeling of weakness, it creates this feeling that you are weak, you can not escape so why even try. This is one of many tactics used by abusers to keep things how they want them to stay, by telling them they are weak, they need them, they are nothing without them or that they couldn’t even cope with life if it were not for them. Anybody who has been through domestic abuse knows how difficult it is just to survive each day, to go through the day with the constant berating, name calling, threats and some times violence. They are not victims they are survivors. They have survived something that many people cannot even comprehend experiencing and becuase of this they are often left with PTSD or other health disorders. But they are here! They are still fighting and with help they can win the fight.

 685,000 male and 1,300,000 women subjected to domestic violence in 2018 alone

Understand what it is

Domestic abuse/violence, firstly, is the same thing. Don’t think that a person has not experienced domestic violence because they were never physically beaten by their abuser. The terms are used interchangeably, something which is unfortunately not commonly know and even the police will often get this wrong. To say they are different is to lessen one, and what are you lessening? To most people they think violence is worse than mental abuse. Please understand how wrong that is, you can’t imagine what it is like to live every day terrified of what mood they will be in, will they be yelling at you or is it going to be the usual self confidence rotting “jokes” maybe today they finally give in to their impulses and go through with the constant threats of violence. Living with abuse such as this is horrifying. You lose you, you lose everybody around you, you hate yourself, you hate them but you know you can’t live without them because your worthless. You hate every single day you are alive but what is your option? Take your life? What if you have children? Pets you love, Siblings? What happens to them? Will all of this just be put on their shoulders. It is a living hell, that becomes the most normal thing in the world to you.

Domestic- as a term means somebody who is or was part of your home life or a family relation. It does not just refer to people within a current relationship or of opposing genders. It could be somebody you co-habit with, it could be an Uncle, a Mother, a Father, a Sibling don’t think the general male / female couple is the only definer.

On average 2 women are murdered every week and 30 men are murdered every year due to domestic violence.

Know The Law

Knowing and understanding what your friend or loved ones rights are are extremely important. Odds are they don’t know themselves and don’t have the ability to look in a safe way or even the foresight to know what they are experiencing is wrong, it could be that they started life in an abusive home and have moved to an abusive partner, how are you to recognise something as wrong if it is all you have ever known? Be knowledgeable on laws in your own country look into the law of domestic violence and coercion and what rights they have.

If they do feel they want to go to the police and you want to support them you are going to need to know this. The police are under funded and extremely under trained in this field and quite often don’t actually know or understand the law and rights themselves. Once you have read up, don’t attack them with law quotes, it is good enough that you know their rights for the time being. If you have been witness or heard anything you can also, with their permission, go to the police and make a statement you can use this time to speak to the police about the law and their rights.

1.32 million domestic abuse-related incidents and crimes reported to police in 2019

The Police recorded only 746,219 of those crimes

Only 60,160 convictions where made

Understand What Denial Is

Many people experiencing domestic abuse have no conscious idea what they are being subjected to. Though, sub-consciously, you might find them asking questions or telling you little things about what is happening. Pay attention to what they have to say and do not push to hard. If a person is in a stage of denial ripping of the band aid in to fast a manner can often cause a total shut down and even a full break down of your relationship with them due to them being invested in which ever way that may be, to the abusive relationship.

It Is In No Way Their Fault

You think it is easy to walk away from an abusive relationship? How about if it is all you have known? Your confidence so low, the person you are completely crafted around what they want you to be, that you have no idea who you are without them?

What if you have children you are terrified of losing? What if you are financially reliant? Maybe you feel guilty? Maybe they have told you everything that happens is your fault? What if abuse is all you have ever known?

You add that to your low confidence, and it makes it something that wouldn’t even cross your mind. Why would it if your behaviour was the issue. Or, other hand what if it is your sick Mother who was abusing you? The Mother who has raised you, who you live with, who you love and rely on for your love and compassion? Would it be so easy to walk away then?

No, and judging them because they are taking a while or struggling to see through what is happening is only going to help the abuser. You are drilling their point home. Abusers love to control the mind of the people they are abusing, they create this control which by the end the person being subjected to the abuse can have no clue they are being abused. People use love, companionship, trust and loyalty to create these relationships and even the strongest willed people can become pray to these people. These people are predators and let me tell you they are good at what they do. They can slap you in the face talk for half an hour and have you saying sorry in the end. This is not you being weak willed this is them, them being monsters. Abominations even.

It can take years of therapy to regain yourself

Don’t expect a turn around over night once they have left the situation, if anything everything has just began. Expect many tears, fights, erratic behaviour and so much more. They have just experienced some awful times and are now being met with having to admit that to themselves which means reliving many traumatic times and seeing them through new eyes. Be there for them, be understanding and do keep suggesting therapies. Above all remember that this what is happening right now is temporary and is much worse for them than you. To begin with, CBT can be really helpful, it doesn’t help with the trauma but it helps teach you re train your brain. To stop blaming yourself and recognise what is your personality and what was crafted by the abuser. It may at times seem like it isn’t helping but stick with it because with hard work it will help.

Be Aware Of Triggers

Triggers can be anything that takes them back to what they experienced, in the right thereputic setting triggers are used but these are in safe spaces created by minds that have years of training and phd’s to prove it. You may think you know and understand what is best for the person but let me tell this, you are not a therapist and you can make everything 10 times worse. At the beginning it is best to avoid triggers when ever possible.

These can be anything, it can be a perfume, a certain holiday it can even be a certain way of holding them. Unfortunately, there is only one way to figure out triggers and that is by being triggered so this is both of you who need to work on this. It is important your paying attention, watch their body language, pay attention to quick mood shifts but they also need to be honest about it. Some triggers you don’t actually understand, especially if there are repressed memories, but to recognise that something happened and it made you feel a certain way is important. Have them makes notes of it, it will help to determine what the trigger is and what it is connecting to so that when the time is right it can be faced.

Let Them Talk In Their Own Time

Pushing somebody to talk about things their brain is not yet wired to compute can be like setting of a flash bang in a 2 person lift. A terrible, terrible idea, everybody gets hurts and nothing is better. Let them come to you, if they aren’t, continue lightly offering your support and information about therapies, if that doesn’t help you can always go to a medical professional and ask for help or advice. Talking is what heals us, talking is so important but is also sadly what many abusers will target. They will have them feeling that it is pointless, because that is what they want, they want them to feel helpless.

It is so important that they feel confident to come to you, that anything they tell you will be met by no judgement and that you will speak in the right places and listen at the right times. It is all about paying attention, if you look closely, you can tell when somebody is not quite finished talking, if they start a sentence and stop, give them a moment to finish it or a slight nudge if needed just a simple yeah? to indicate you are listening and they are safe to say what they are struggling to say.

Don’t Ignore It

What ever you do, if you see somebody is the subject of domestic abuse do something. We live in a world filled with people who wait for the ‘somebody else to do it’ don’t. This is how people die, we lose loved ones and the world loses the chance to help them. There are so many resources of help available out there please use any of them and find the help you need so you can get the help they need. If you are struggling to find the help or are nervous to call any of the help lines please feel free to contact me be it trough the site, through email, through any of my social medias. I will get your message and I will do all I can to help.

Where Can I find Help?

National Helpline

Womens Aid

National Domestic Violence Hotline

Very Well Mind

NHS

Refuge

DVRCV

My Random Musings

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