GUEST POST: CECELIA CRAWFORD for DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH
How to Support Victims of Abuse
Cecilia Crawford, Executive Director of Reach, Inc in Murphy, NC, has written an insightful guest post about Domestic Violence in recognition of this being Domestice Violence Awareness Month. Crawford’s article turns attention, not to the direct victims of violence, but to the loved ones of the victim who may struggle with how and when to offer support. This post is packed with gems that everyone can benefit from.
Whether you suspect that a friend or family member is being abused or you witnessed someone being abused, you can take steps to help.
Knowing or thinking that someone you care about is in a violent relationship can be very hard. You may fear for their safety. You may want to rescue them or insist they leave, but every adult must make their own decisions. Each situation is different, and the people involved are all different too. Here are some ways to help a loved one who is being abused: set-up a time to talk to your loved one in private where you will not be distracted or interrupted and let them know that you are concerned about their safety; this can be tricky. So, start by giving your friend positive affirmations and complimentary statements like, “You’re always so fun to be around. I’ve missed you!” Once your friend feels comfortable, you can begin calmly voicing your concern for your friend.
Remember to be honest and let them know that abuse is wrong. Your loved one may get defensive, deny, or even make excuses. Let them know that you love them, and you will respect whatever decision they make. Be supportive by "just" listening without judgment and offer to help with shopping, house cleaning, babysitting, etc. Placing shame, blame, or guilt will not only make them alienate from you, but they will make them feel worse about themselves. No matter how hard it is for you. It is much worse for your family/friend. Tell them you understand that their situation is very difficult, and you are here for them. Help them make a safety plan. Keep an overnight bag at your house, creating a “safe” word, agreeing on a place to meet if they decide to leave. Please encourage them to talk to someone who is a professional to help. Reach of Cherokee County’s crisis line is a call or text line, 828-837-8064 and is available 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. ALL calls are confidential.
If they decide to stay, continue to be supportive. She may decide to stay in the relationship or leave and then go back many times. It may be hard for you to understand, but people stay in abusive relationships for many reasons. Be supportive, no matter what she decides to do. Please encourage them to do things outside of the relationship with family or friends. If she chooses to leave, continue to offer help. Even though the relationship was abusive, they may feel sad and lonely once it is over. They will need help getting services from agencies or community groups or a ride to and from appointments. Let her know that you will always be there no matter what. It can be very frustrating to see a friend or loved one stay in an abusive relationship. But if you end your relationship, they have one less safe place to go in the future. You cannot force a person to leave a relationship, but you can let them know you will help, whatever they decide to do.
Statistics show that victims go back to their abuser seven to ten times if they ever leave at all. Judging or attacking the abuser will cause the victim to defend them and draw closer to them. Be concerning and kind. If you would like more information on how you can help a friend in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, please call the Reach of Cherokee County crisis line at 828-837-8064 to get advice.
We appreciate your support!
Cecilia Crawford-Faulkner, Executive Director
REACH, CHEROKEE COUNTY NC
Domestic violence/sexual assault & displaced homemakers. Reach Thrift Store not only has gentle used brand name apparel, great appliances, and furniture but also custom t-shirts and new boutique quality jewelry. Reach isn' t the average thrift store.
Reach of Cherokee County, Inc.
Address: PO Box 977, 1978 Hwy 64 West, Murphy, NC 28906
Direct Line: 828-237-2454
Cell Number: 828-557-6202
Crisis Number: 828-837-8064
Thrift Store Number: 828-837-7570
Main Office Number: 828-837-9631
WRC Office Number: 828-837-2097
Andrews Office Number: 828-237-2529
Fax Number: 828-237-2338
Reach will lead our community in eliminating domestic violence and sexual assault through education, advocacy, self-empowerment, and community awareness.