Rebecca Girlinghouse, MA
WKPIC Doctoral Intern
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and although our minds may be currently filled with all things Pumpkin Spice and Halloween, it is important to remember that over 10 million men, women and children in the United States experience domestic violence each year. With so many individuals being affected by domestic violence, it is likely you have encountered more than one person who is currently in a domestic violence situation. At times like this, we often want to help but are not sure how. There are several helpful things you can do for friends or family members who are currently in a domestic violence situation.
- Acknowledge that the person is in a scary and difficult situation. Make sure to be supportive and listen. If the person does not want to talk about it in the moment, let them know you are available if they change their mind.
- It is very important to be non-judgmental. It may be difficult, but it is best to respect the person’s decisions, not criticize them, and continue to offer support.
- If the person ends the relationship, continue to be supportive and validate their experiences. Even though the relationship was abusive, the person may still be sad about its end and will need to mourn the loss of the relationship.
- Help the person develop a plan that will keep them safe. The National Domestic Hotline has information on safety planning that can be found at https://www.thehotline.org/help/path-to-safety/.
- Encourage the person to talk to people who can provide help. Below is the information for the National Domestic Hotline and their website, which provides information on domestic violence. They can also assist people in finding services in their area.
- Remember that you cannot “rescue” the person. Although it is difficult to watch someone you care about experience pain, it is ultimately their decision, and trying to make the decision for them may only push them away. No matter what, it is of the utmost importance to remain supportive.
Domestic Violence Resources:
- National Domestic Violence Hotline website: https://www.thehotline.org/
- National Domestic Violence Hotline phone: 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224
Huecker, M. & Smock, W. (2019). Domestic violence. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499891/