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Posted on April 12, 2017 in Domestic Violence

What Do I Do if a Loved One is a Victim of Domestic Abuse?

Domestic abuse is a problem that permeates the world, affecting more people than one might realize. In Arizona, there were 28,546 domestic abuse hotline and referral calls made in 2016. Arizona emergency shelters provided 283,170 nights of relief to adults and children the same year. Domestic violence can refer to physical abuse, battery, willful intimidation, sexual assault, threats, and emotional abuse. If you have reason to believe your loved one is a victim of domestic abuse, you can help him/her seek help safely and effectively by contacting a domestic violence attorney in Phoenix. Take the following steps to help your friend or family member:

Identify Domestic Abuse

In many situations, victims of abuse are too afraid to come forward about their situations for fear of retaliation from their abusive partners. As a close friend or relative, identifying domestic abuse falls into your realm of responsibility. Abuse comes in many forms, but typically has common signs you can watch for, such as:

  • Unexplained bruises, marks, or injuries
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Feelings of shame, guilt, or self-hate
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Making excuses for a partner’s behavior
  • Constant fear of making a partner angry
  • An extremely possessive or jealous partner

If you suspect domestic abuse, talk to your friend or family member in a safe, private setting. Try to communicate in person, somewhere your conversation can’t be intercepted or heard by other parties – namely, the alleged abuser. This could put your loved one in more danger. Tell any loved ones in this situation that you acknowledge their situation and they aren’t alone. It may be difficult for your loved one to talk about the domestic abuse, but let him or her know you are available to help whenever needed.

Set Personal Judgments Aside

In most cases, ending domestic abuse isn’t as simple as telling your friend or loved one to break it off with the abuser. There are many reasons someone might stay in an abusive relationship. Your loved one may be afraid of what will happen, believe abuse is normal, feel embarrassed or ashamed, have a lack of resources to leave, or simply feel love for his/her abusive partner. Children with the partner can make domestic abuse situations more difficult to leave, especially if the partner is threatening to harm those children.

Abuse is about control and power. One of the most important ways you can help victims is to bolster their power. Getting angry with loved ones or giving up on them will not be helpful or end the abusive situation. Instead, empower loved ones to make their own decisions. Be supportive and listen, and do not criticize their decisions during this difficult time. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for someone in an abusive relationship is to simply make yourself available for help.

Seek Appropriate Help

Help your loved one come up with a safety plan – a plan to deal with emergencies, leave the abuser, find a safe place to hide, and receive a court order of protection. Remember, an abuser might monitor your loved one’s phone records and computer use. Your friend or relative may not be able to perform Internet searches for domestic abuse hotlines or shelters for fear of discovery by the abuser. Do the research for him or her, and find a safe way to get the information across.

Call the 24-hour Arizona domestic violence hotline at (480) 890-3039 and speak to an advocate about your friend’s situation. You can also call the national domestic violence hotline at (800) 799-7233. Highly trained advocates are available all hours of the day and night to help your loved one find a safe way out of his/her specific situation.