2020 has been a difficult year, with national lockdowns being implemented across the world as governments attempt to keep on top of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has not only taken a toll on the health of populations but it’s also had far-reaching socio-economic impacts.
Being forced indoors is by no means easy for anyone, but it has been especially hard for those in unhappy relationships, as the rise in domestic violence rates has demonstrated. Domestic abuse knows no bounds and affects people of different races, classes, and cultural backgrounds. The pervasiveness of this problem has also been brought to the fore by high-profile celebrity cases such as that of Rihanna and Chris Brown.
Even for those fortunate enough to escape domestic abuse themselves, it is highly likely that someone close will be exposed to it. Anyone who finds themselves in a situation where they need to support a loved one experiencing domestic abuse, here are some tips on how to help them out in a safe and effective manner:
Understand the Nature of Domestic Abuse
A common misconception about domestic abuse is that it always involves physical violence, but this isn’t always the case. While many victims will have visible signs such as cuts, bruises, and burns, there are also emotional elements to abuse as well. Although the evidence of emotional abuse isn’t always visible, it does have effects on a victim’s confidence and changes to their personality may also become evident.
Be Willing to Listen Without Judgement
Domestic violence is complex and situations are rarely straightforward. Victims are often scared to speak out due to a fear of being judged. It’s also natural for them to feel very isolated too. Often the first thing to do to support them is simply to listen without judgment. Refraining from offering advice and personal circumstances can be more complicated than it would seem to be on the surface. There could be an element of co-dependence and things become tricky when there are kids involved too.
Know the Law
If someone close is suffering as a result of domestic abuse, whether or not they are ready to leave the relationship one of the best tools they can receive is some knowledge of the laws surrounding domestic violence. Laws differ from one country or state to the next so invest time doing research and learning about the procedures that need to be followed when pressing charges and filing restraining orders. Reaching out to organizations and professionals working in the field who have the experience to offer advice is usually an excellent starting point.
Relationships are hard and tough economic circumstances can put additional pressure on people, but there is no excuse for abuse be it physical or emotional. Removing oneself from an abusive relationship is never straightforward but knowing how to handle domestic violence properly is key. Having the right sort of support from friends and family as well as access to legal resources provides a good basis for the solution though and is the first step in a difficult journey.