Supporting a Friend or Family member
Support comes in many forms. Since you are now reading, this shows that your heart is in the right place, and you need ways to help a friend or family member go through a difficult situation.
Survivors may not know what they want or need, especially in the middle of a difficult situation. At Serene Harbor, we will provide you with the tools and resources you need to support your loved one's needs at this time.
Listen without any judgment and without blame. Let them know that they can count on you for help and remind them they are not alone. Make sure that you allow enough time for them to share with you without rushing or pushing them to talk. Be understandable that there are many reasons why the survivor won’t leave and offer your support.
Try to avoid ‘convincing’ the victim to do anything. You must show that you respect their decisions, even if you don’t agree with them. The goal is to be a source of support, not to tell them what to do. Respect their choices and their right to make their own decisions.
There are many support programs available that you may find via a search online. Research the various programs as they relate to the survivor and have those resources on hand for the next conversation. Help them gather the phone numbers and agencies that help them with whatever choice they make.
Serene Harbor offers a wide variety of programs to survivors, but we also support those supporting survivors. Feel free to contact us for additional resources to provide your survivor.
Many times, victims of domestic violence will hesitate to tell anyone what is happening because they are afraid no one will believe them. Be kind to them opening up to you and let them know you believe them! Tell her or him that you see what is going on and talk about what a healthy relationship looks like. Don’t rush to offer advice but listen and assure them that you believe what they are telling you, be mindful to let them set the pace of the conversation, and share as much as they are comfortable doing so.
Ask about Safety
If they plan to stay, help them create a safety plan. There is a variety of reasons why a survivor chose to stay. Help them be as safe as possible. Ask questions such as: Do you feel safe right now? And/or What do you need to feel safe? This will help survivors assess their own situation. They are the experts when it comes to their relationship, don’t rush with advice, but listen to their concerns about staying safe and help them with a plan.
The most you can do is be there to support your friend or family member while they make the choices they believe best for them. It is difficult to watch a person be abused in a relationship, but ultimately, the person has to decide what is best for them. Your support is the best help you can offer.
Survivors of domestic abuse often experience a tremendous loss of power. Do all you can to help them rediscover their autonomy and independence — without giving advice or judgment. Try not to pressure the survivor to react in a certain way or take specific actions. Empower them to take control of their own life back while reminding them of the power of their own agency