Whether it’s your neighbor, a best friend or a coworker, suspecting domestic violence in someone else’s relationship will leave you feeling angry and helpless. No one wants to witness someone who they care about go through physical harm in a relationship. If you know someone who is in an unhealthy relationship that may be violent, there are ways that you can help.
1. Call the Police
If you suspect that someone is getting assaulted, do not feel that you are helpless in this situation. You can anonymously report the incident to the police who will come and investigate. Sometimes, abusers will not leave bruises in visible places so it may not be obvious that the person is getting hurt. However, if you hear a loud argument, followed by one-sided screaming or items being thrown, then this is enough to suspect that someone’s life may be in danger. You do not need to have evidence of domestic violence in order to be concerned. If you suspect violence, call 911.
2. Open the Lines of Communication
Even if you are not close to the person, you can always offer a listening ear. For example, if you suspect that a neighbor is being abused, knock on their door one day and ask to borrow an item. Little by little, you will start to become acquaintances. Once you are closer, you can ask if everything is alright. Offer to be a source of help. If they resist, do not persist. However, continue to be cordial so they know that you are there if they need it.
3. Pay Attention to Domestic Violence Details
If you notice unexplained bruises or a frequency in disappearing acts by a friend, then you should pay closer attention to the signs of domestic violence. Is their partner jealous? Have the victim mentioned their partner’s temper or fights? Does the victim seem isolated? If you notice that there is a pattern of suspicious behavior, try asking the victim a few questions to gauge where they are mentally with the relationship. If this a close friend, perhaps you can offer them a temporary place to stay or a short vacation to get away.
4. Ask Friends
If you have mutual friends, casually bring up the situation and see if anyone else suspects domestic violence. If there is another family member or friend who is concerned, then your worries may be real concerns. Contact a community resource about how to hold an intervention that will not alienate or shame the victim but offer support and love.
5. Invite Them Out on One-on-One Outings
Often times, abusers tend to isolate their victims so they feel powerless. In order to combat this, you can invite the victim out for one-one-one outings. If the abuser does not let the person out alone, then you could take the risk and invite the abuser to come along. While this may seem like an enabling behavior, the victim would still be widening their circle of friends and world beyond the abuser. If you are nonjudgmental, then the victim is more likely to trust you and confide in you. When that level of friendship occurs, you can act as a voice of reason and give your two cents in a kind and respectful manner.
6. Recommend Therapists
When you have a close relationship with the victim, you may want to suggest therapy. If you are in therapy yourself, you could recommend someone. Additionally, you could offer to go to a session with the victim. If they cannot afford standard rates or do not have insurance to cover it, you could point out free resources in the community, including anti-domestic violence groups and other meetings that may be helpful and relevant to their situation.
7. Discuss Options and Resources
If you believe that your suspicions are true, and others share your opinion, try talking to the victim about filing a police report and pressing charges. If you’re unfamiliar with the law, contact a lawyer for more information. If you contact Rawlings Criminal Law, their team of experienced attorneys can offer you valuable advice during a free consultation. You could also provide the victim with local resources to help with housing, handling custody (if there are children), etc. If the victim chooses to seek legal representation, it is in their best interest to work with a robust firm that has been successful in handling similar cases.
While you may want to save your friend or family member from a domestic violence situation, no one can save anyone. However, you can provide them with resources and offer support to help them help themselves into a living a safer, healthier life.