Domestic Violence Signs and Ways to Protect Someone
By Joanne Marszal
Long ago people would watch The Brady Bunch and imagine that a real family was supposed to be just like the family on television, but that is complete fiction. No family is perfect. Families face various issues such as domestic violence. What’s the difference between “issues” and domestic violence? Houseofruth.org lists some red flag behaviors:
- Wants to move too quickly into the relationship.
- Early in the relationship flatters you constantly and seems “too good to be true.”
- Wants you all to him- or herself; insists that you stop spending time with your friends or family.
- Insists that you stop participating in hobbies or activities that you enjoy, quit school, or quit your job.
- Does not honor your boundaries.
- Is excessively jealous and accuses you of being unfaithful.
- Wants to know where you are all the time and frequently calls, emails, and texts you throughout the day.
- Criticizes or puts you down; says you are crazy, stupid, and/or fat/unattractive, or that no one else would ever want or love you.
- Takes no responsibility for his or her behavior and blames others.
- Has a history of abusing others.
- Blames the entire failure of previous relationships on his or her former partner; for example, “My ex was totally crazy.”
- Takes your money or runs up your credit card debt.
- Rages out of control with you but can maintain composure around others.
Do you know someone whose partner is like this? If so, nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk gives tips how to support a friend:
- Talk to her and help her to open-up. You may have to try several times before she will confide in you
- Try to be direct and start by saying something like, “I’m worried about you because” or “I’m concerned about your safety”
- Do not judge her
- Listen to and believe what she tells you – too often people do not believe a woman when she first discloses abuse
- Reassure her that the abuse is not her fault and that you are there for her
- Don’t tell her to leave or criticize her for staying. Although you may want her to leave, she must make that decision in her own time. It is important to remember that research shows an abused woman is at most risk at the point of separation and immediately after leaving an abusive partner
- Leaving takes a great deal of strength and courage. An abused woman often faces huge obstacles such as nowhere to go, no money and no-one to turn to for support
- Focus on supporting her and building her self confidence
- Acknowledge her strengths and frequently remind her that she is coping well with a challenging and stressful situation
- An abused woman is often very isolated and has no meaningful support – help her to develop or to keep up her outside contacts. This can help to boost her self-esteem.
- If she has not spoken to anyone else, encourage her to seek the help of a local domestic violence agency that understands what she is going through and offers specialist support and advice
- Be patient. It can take time for a woman to recognize she is being abused and even longer to take be able to take safe and permanent decisions about what to do. Recognizing the problem is an important first step.
The website also offers tips on how to help a friend and the children stay safe:
- Talk to her about how she and her children can keep safe
- Help her to stay safe:
- Agree a code word or action that is only known to you both, so she can signal when she is in danger and cannot access help herself
- Don’t make plans for her yourself, but encourage her to think about her safety more closely and focus on her own needs rather than his
- Find out information about local services for her; offer to keep spare sets of keys or important documents, such as passports, benefit books, in a safe place for her so that she can access them quickly in an emergency
- Encourage her to think of ways in which she can increase the safety of her children
- Remember that it isn’t children’s responsibility to protect their mother. In an emergency they could call for help from the police, go to a neighbor, or a relative or someone they trust.
No family is perfect, but no one deserves to live in a family like described here. If you’re thinking of someone as you read this post, take these tips and protect a life.
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