Offering Support During Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Domestic violence is defined as physical, mental, verbal, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse that takes place within an intimate relationship. Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, man or woman, whether it is husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend or to someone in a same-sex relationship. In fact, one in four women and one in seven men have experienced domestic violence in their intimate relationships.
“There seems to be a belief in our society that if someone isn’t physically abusing you then it isn’t an abusive relationship, and that is not true,” says Denni Stolze, Victim Advocate & Outreach Coordinator. There are many different ways you can be abused by a partner, and it is important to look out for specific red flags, including controlling money, limiting social settings, withholding or forcing sexual acts, name-calling, threats, gaslighting and more.
If you are concerned or struggling to find ways to help yourself or your loved ones that might be in this situation, here are some ways you can help:
- Reassure. It is imperative in this situation that you know you or your loved one is not alone. Try saying something like this: “If you ever do decide to leave, here are your options.” There are reasons that people stay in these relationships, it can be because of lack of income, or they don’t have a safe place to go.
- Advocate. “Something you should never say to a survivor of domestic violence is ‘Why don’t you just leave?’ because it is never that easy. Be there for them and allow a space for them without judgement,” says Stolze. It is harder for survivors to leave, and know that it takes up to seven times for them to leave the relationship. Offer your loved one support and patience.
- Connect to resources. Research the available options in your community. What shelters or services do they provide for survivors and children? Provide those details for local shelters and give them numbers to abuse hotlines or the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
- Contact Authorities. “If you see something that looks like abuse get authorities involved as soon as possible. That is all part of the community involvement that will help survivors in the future,” says Stolze. Getting individuals to safety is one of the best ways to help—connecting them to the resources around them.
Domestic violence is a scary situation to go through, but you don’t have to do it alone. Centerstone participates in the National Domestic Violence Hotline and offers a variety of mental health services to support survivors and children. Call us at 1-877-HOPE123 for more information about our counseling services.