Friday, March 06, 2009

How to help friends in abusive relationships

Ed Heisler, Community Education Coordinator, Safe Haven Shelter gives this advice.
Friends or family members who are being abused:
-Call police if you see/hear abuse.
-Explain that free and confidential help is available for victims and their children at local domestic violence programs.
-Offer a ride to a local shelter, a place to make a phone call, or to baby-sit while they attend an appointment.
Friends of family members who are abusers:
-Call police if you see/hear abuse.
-Tell them there is no excuse for abuse, and they may lose their family, friends, home, and job if this does not stop.
-Hold them accountable for their behavior, and support their efforts to locate and obtain batter intervention treatment.
Other ways to help:
-Volunteer your time to local domestic violence programs.
-Make monetary donations, or donate phone cards, gift certificates, old cell phones, bus tickets, etc.
-Offer to board pets while victims are in shelter.
-Sponsor a family for a holiday, gifts, etc.
-Contact program staff to learn more about the many ways you can help.
Heisler also tells groups of listeners that one should lend a listening ear, guide her to community services, help the battered woman to focus on her strengths and skills, and help her make a safety plan as well as finding a safe place.
It is important to use positive statements with the victim such as, “I am sorry this is happening to you,” “You don’t deserve to be abused,” “You didn’t cause the abuse,” “It is against the law for one person to hit another,” “There is help whenever you choose to seek it.”
Often people wonder why some friends or family members stay in abusive relationships. Heisler says do not give up on them. They are often stuck in a difficult situation because either they still love the person who is hurting them or they fear great harm or death if they leave. Remember, you may be that person’s lifeline. Encourage them to call a shelter to talk to an advocate.
If you need information about how to support a friend or family member or to schedule a presentation contact Heisler at directly at 730.2468, or phone the main line at Safe Haven 728-6481.