Opinion – How to help victims become survivors
By Holly Blume Gillar
SPECIAL TO THE POST-REGISTER
Victims of domestic violence may not be aware of their own situation. Victims of domestic violence may be aware of what’s happening to them, but may not know what to do about it.
Victims of domestic violence who choose to leave and get help may not know who to turn to or here to go
. And those who know and love the victim may not know how to help. Help is available. Talk to trusted family members and friends. Police departments, sheriffs offices, hospitals, and churches are valuable sources of safety and information. Many cities have victim services, with people trained specifically on how to help victims of domestic violence. Larger towns have shelters and support groups to help victims become survivors.
There are hotlines to call. There are online support groups. Help is available.
And, even though the help is available, it’s very difficult to ask for. When a victim of domestic violence asks for help, it is like stripping their own last defense down. They are admitting that things are out of control, that they can’t stop it, and that they are utterly defenseless. And in that moment, though it doesn’t feel like it at the time, that is when they begin the healing process. That is when others get involved to help them sort through all the abuse and issues that arose from it. Most victims of domestic violence cannot recover on their own; they need help and support from others.
When a person tells you they are being abused, listen to them and believe them. It is so critical that they are taken seriously. Most likely, they are even downplaying the severity of what they endured. Let them know that you care about them, and that this abuse is not their fault. Tell them they aren’t crazy; what they experienced was real. They are normal. Tell them that they are strong and brave, and they will get through this. Encourage them to reach out for help.
Help them build a support system. Walk beside them on this road to recovery. Tell them they are not alone.
Healing from an abusive relationship takes time. Don’t tell them to get over it and move on. Don’t try to get them to do things they aren’t ready for. Don’t tell them that the first year is the hardest. Don’t tell them that they may never fully recover. Don’t ask them if they ever plan to get married again. Don’t tell them they jumped into a relationship too soon.
I am not a professional therapist, counselor, psychiatrist or psychologist. I am simply a domestic abuse survivor, finding my voice and breaking my silence. If you need help, or if you want to help someone you love, you can call Licia Edwards of Victim Services at the Sheriffs Office at (512) 221-8729 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE (7233).
Editor’s Note: This is the final in a multi-part series in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, intended to educate and enlighten our readers to the pervasive problem of Domestic Violence in Texas.