DV Support

How can I support someone in a domestic violence relationship?

When it is a viable option, NCADV says it is best for victims to do what they can to escape their abusers. However, abusers repeatedly go to extremes to prevent the victim from leaving. In fact, leaving an abuser is the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence. A victim’s reasons for staying with their abusers are extremely complex and, in most cases, are based on the reality that their abuser will follow through with the threats they have used to keep them trapped.

understanding holding hand in support

Do not to judge the survivor.

Talk to your friend or loved one. You may have to try several times before she confides in you. Try to be direct and start by saying something like, “I’m concerned about your safety…” Always make sure you have these conversations when it is safe to do so. Make sure you are placing shame, blame, or guilt on the survivor. Avoid statements like “You just need to leave” and “You have to think about your kids.” Try instead things like “I’m worried something might happen to you or the kids.” Let the survivor know you understand the situation is very difficult, and she has your full support.

sister comforting another sister

Believe the Survivor

Listen and believe what she tells you. Too often people do not believe what victims disclose about the abuse. Remember, abusers often look like wonderful people in public. As the NCADV notes, anyone can be a victim of domestic violence. There is NO “typical victim.” Victims of domestic violence comes from all walks of life, varying age groups, all backgrounds, all communities, all education levels, all economic levels, all cultures, all ethnicities, all religions, all abilities, and all lifestyles. Believe the survivor.

reassurance mom and daughter

Provide Reassurance

Reassure her the abuse is not her fault and you are there for her. According to the NCADV, victims of domestic violence do not bring violence upon themselves, they do not always lack self-confidence, nor are they just as abusive as the abuser. Violence in relationships occurs when one person feels entitled to power and control over their partner and chooses to use abuse to gain and maintain that control.

confident female

Focus on supporting the survivor and building her self-confidence.

Acknowledge her strengths and frequently remind her that she is coping well with a challenging and stressful situation. According to NCADV, domestic violence affects all aspects of a victim’s life. When abuse victims are able to safely escape and remain free from their abuser, they often survive with long-lasting and sometimes permanent effects to their mental and physical health; relationships with friends, family, and children; their career; and their economic well-being. Encourage the survivor to get the help she needs to truly heal from the abuse. For information on evidence-based therapy practices like Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR), contact Peace River Center’s Registration Team at 863.248.3311.

woman on phone

Help Her Overcome Obstacles, Share Resources

Leaving takes a great deal of strength and courage. An abuse victim often faces huge obstacles such as nowhere to go, no money, and no one for support. Don’t tell her to leave or criticize her if she stays. The victim has to make that decision in her own time. Let the survivor know Peace River Center Victim Services offers free and confidential support for survivors. We safety plan with survivors regardless of whether they enter our domestic violence shelter, stay in the community, or with their abuser. Safety is a priority. If needed have her call our 24-hour emergency domestic violence crisis lines:

Hardee/Highlands Counties: 863.386.1167

Polk County: 863.413.2700