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How to Support Someone Who's Being Abused

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6662399Everyone has a role to play in stopping and preventing woman abuse. You may suspect abuse is happening to a neighbour, friend or family member but not know what to do or how to talk about it. You may worry about making the situation worse, or be concerned about what to do. By understanding the warning signs and risk factors of woman abuse, you can help.

If you recognize some of these signs, it may be time to take action.

He ...

  • puts her down
  • does all the talking and dominates the conversation
  • checks up on her all the time, even at work
  • tries to suggest he is the victim and acts depressed
  • tries to keep her away from you
  • acts as if he owns her
  • lies to make himself look good or exaggerates his good qualities
  • acts like he is superior and of more value than others in his home

She ...

  • may be apologetic and makes excuses for his behaviour or becomes aggressive and angry
  • is nervous talking when he’s there
  • seems to be sick more often and misses work
  • tries to cover her bruises
  • makes excuses at the last minute about why she can’t meet you or she tries to avoid you on the street
  • seems sad, lonely, withdrawn, and is afraid
  • uses more drugs or alcohol to cope

Signs of High Risk

He ...

  • has access to her and her children
  • has access to weapons
  • has a history of abuse with her or others
  • has threatened to harm or kill her if she leaves him
  • threatens to harm her children, her pets, her property
  • has threatened to kill himself
  • has hit her or choked her
  • is going through major life changes (e.g. job, separation, depression)
  • is convinced she is seeing someone else
  • blames her for ruining her life
  • doesn’t seek support
  • watches her actions, listens to her telephone conversations, reads her emails and follows her
  • has trouble keeping a job
  • takes drugs or drinks every day
  • has no respect for the law

She ...

  • has just separated or is planning to leave
  • fears for her life and for her children’s safety or she cannot see her risk
  • is in a custody battle, or has children from a previous relationship
  • is involved in another relationship
  • has unexplained injuries
  • has no access to a phone
  • faces other obstacles (e.g. she does not speak English, is not yet a legal resident of Canada, lives in a remote area)
  • has no friends or family

Ways to Support Her

  • Talk to her about what you see and assure her that you are concerned. Tell her you believe her and that it is not her fault.
  • Encourage her not to confront her partner if she is planning to leave. Her safety, and that of her children, must be protected.
  • Offer to provide childcare while she seeks help.
  • Encourage her to pack a small bag with important items and keep it stored at your home in case she needs it.
  • Know that you or she can call the Assaulted Women’s Helpline (1-866-863-0511, TTY 1-866-863-7868), your local shelter, or in an emergency, the police.

If She Denies the Abuse

  • Assure her she can talk to you any time.
  • Don’t become angry or frustrated with her decisions. It is important to understand that she may be afraid or not ready to take the next steps.
  • Try to understand why she might be having difficulty getting help. She may feel ashamed.
  • Offer to go with her if she needs additional information or support.
  • If she has children, let her know gently that you are concerned about her and her children’s safety and emotional well-being. She may be more willing to recognize her situation if she recognizes her children may also be in danger.

Courtesy of Neighbours, Friends and Families.