If someone you love is being abused, it can be so difficult to know what to do. Your instinct may be to “save” them from the relationship, but it’s not that easy. After all, there are many reasons why people stay in abusive relationships, and leaving can be a very dangerous time for a victim.
Abuse is about power and control, so one of the most important ways you can help a person in an abusive relationship is to consider how you might empower them to make their own decisions. Additionally, you can offer support in various ways:
ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THEY ARE IN A VERY DIFFICULT AND SCARY SITUATION, BE SUPPORTIVE AND LISTEN.
Let them know that the abuse is not their fault. Reassure them that they are not alone and that there is help and support out there. It may be difficult for them to talk about the abuse. Let them know that you are available to help whenever they may need it. What they need most is someone who will believe and listen.
Respect your friend or family member’s decisions. There are many reasons why victims stay in abusive relationships. They may leave and return to the relationship many times. Do not criticize their decisions or try to guilt them. They will need your support even more during those times.
IF THEY END THE RELATIONSHIP, CONTINUE TO BE SUPPORTIVE OF THEM.
Even though the relationship was abusive, your friend or family member may still feel sad and lonely once it is over. They will need time to mourn the loss of the relationship and will especially need your support at that time.
ENCOURAGE THEM TO PARTICIPATE IN ACTIVITIES OUTSIDE OF THE RELATIONSHIP WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY.
Support is critical and the more they feel supported by people who care for them, the easier it will be for them to take the steps necessary to get and stay safe away from their abusive partner.
ENCOURAGE THEM TO TALK TO PEOPLE WHO CAN PROVIDE HELP AND GUIDANCE.
Encourage the person who is abused or the abuser if he wants to accept counseling services from professionals.
REMEMBER THAT YOU CANNOT “RESCUE” THEM.
Although it is difficult to see someone you care about get hurt, ultimately they are the one who has to make the decisions about what they want to do. It’s important for you to support them no matter what they decide, and help them find a way to safety and peace.
The above text is taken from http://www.thehotline.org/help/
@Copyright – The National Domestic Violence Hotline
Are you worried about how your behaviour is affecting your children or have you seen your own behaviour in your kids? Are you feeling bad about some things you’ve said or done to your partner? Are you worried that she/he might leave you or, has she/he already left you and you’re worried she/he won’t come back?
If you are worried, ask yourself these few important questions:
- Do you often call your partner names and constantly criticize them?
- Have you ever tried to stop your partner doing something that they wanted to do? (For example, going out with friends, having a job, doing some study).
- Do you take control of the finances, so your partner is not allowed to have money for their own personal use?
- Have you ever threatened to hit or throw something at your partner?
- Have you ever unfairly accused your partner of paying too much attention to someone else?
- Have you ever slapped, hit, pushed or shoved your partner?
- Have you ever pressured your partner to have sex when they did not want to?
If you have made a concrete decision to change your behaviour, you have taken an important step. You have just made it over the first difficult hurdle! You’ve shown a great deal of courage to get this far.
If you want your relationship with your partner and children to be without fear and violence, here are some ideas to start with:
- The most important thing is to remove fear from the relationship. You cannot resolve those other issues until your partner feels safe to discuss them with you.
- You may want to blame others for what is happening to you. This is not going to help you. Focus on what you can do differently, NOT what you want other people to do differently.
- Lasting change takes time. If your partner and children are scared of you, it will take considerable time before they recognise the change in you and begin to feel safe. Accept that this cannot be rushed or achieved overnight.
Many men who are abusive to their partners describe feeling angry and needing to stay in control, even when they’re not around their partner. If this is happening to you, then you know how uncomfortable, exhausting and terrible this feels.
Some people think that men who have behaved in violent and aggressive ways must be mentally ill or ‘crazy’. Sometimes the men themselves think this. Most men are not violent or controlling outside the home. They choose when, where and how they are violent or abusive.
WE ALL HAVE CHOICES
Men who have been violent to their partners may describe themselves as being ‘out of control’ when the violence happens. You have a lot more control over your behaviour than you might think. In the heat of the moment, you may not be aware of the choices you make, but you still make them. You choose the way you speak and act with other people. Even when you are very angry or distressed, the choice is still there to be abusive or to find another way to deal with the situation.
When you are feeling highly distressed or maybe completely overwhelmed by your feelings then it is a high-risk time for violence. Here are some ideas about what you can do in these situations:
- Consider taking extended time out from the situation. Going away to stay with a friend can help. You may feel like taking some time off work. Taking this time off may be hard to organise, but remember there is nothing more important right now than looking after yourself. This will give you time to think about your behaviour and how it is affecting your family.
- If you find yourself wanting to hurt your partner by criticising her or by using cruel and hurtful words in a way that you know will hurt – STOP!
- Take 5 slow deep breaths – THINK!
- Do I want to hurt the person who matters most to me? – FOCUS!
I must control myself, not her.
If violence in relationships is ignored, things keep getting worse. Sooner or later it happens again … and again …
Many couples in intimate relationships disagree about things and fight. Disagreements are a part of normal, healthy relationships. Problems arise if one partner feels too threatened or scared to have their say. When this happens, the balance of power is no longer equal.
Alcohol, drugs and violence
Some men believe they only become violent after they’ve been drinking or using drugs. However, this doesn’t mean that alcohol or drugs cause the violence. It just makes it easier to avoid taking responsibility for the violence.
Abusive behavior happens even when you are not under the influence. There are also many men who enjoy drinking and are never violent. If you think you drink too much or you have a problem with alcohol or other drugs, then you need to realise that this is a separate problem to your violence. You need to get help for both problems.
Our ability to face daily challenges may be affected if our personal relationships are not strong and supportive. Strong and supportive relationships will help you enjoy a good overall quality of life.
For more information you can go to the category ‘Services’ of our website.
The above text is taken from the self-help booklet for men who want to change “How to deal with Domestic Violence”, “Freedom from Fear” Campaign, Government of Western Australia – Department of Child Protection.