Domestic violence is a serious problem in this country, and around the world. Victims of domestic violence are often afraid or simply unable to talk about their situation, for fear of potential repercussions. If you know someone who is being abused, or if you suspect abuse, you will certainly want to help. However, it is important that you help in an appropriate manner. Taking the wrong kind of action could actually make the situation worse, which is certainly not the desired outcome. We’d like to offer a few basic tips below on how you can help the victim in a domestic violence situation.

A Quiet Conversation

The best way to start of often by bringing up the topic quietly, when no one else is around to hear your conversation. It is important to strike a concerned, understanding tone right from the start – you don’t want to come across as confrontational or adversarial in any way. Also, you need to avoid pushing the topic into territory which makes the individual uncomfortable. Remember, this is not an interrogation – you are just trying to help. It might not all come out at once, so understand that just getting the ball rolling and opening the lines of communication is a big step in the right direction.

Your Job is to Listen

Once an individual who is being abused in a domestic violence situation starts to open up, you may be tempted to interject your own thoughts or opinions about how to process. Try to resist that temptation, instead staying mostly quiet while listening carefully. This is a person who likely doesn’t feel like they have much power at the moment, so having someone listen to their thoughts and feelings will be refreshing. There is time later for you to discuss a plan with this person – for now, just be a good, supportive listener.

Convey No Doubts

In many cases of domestic violence, the abuser is someone who would not be suspected by those on the outside to be committing any crime. With that being the case, victims offer suffer through the struggle of not being believed for their claims. If you are trying to be helpful and supportive, be sure to demonstrate the fact that you have no doubts about these accusations. You are on the victim’s side, and you are going to be there to provide support from start to finish. During such a difficult time, it will be helpful for the victim to know that someone is fully in their corner.

Contact the Authorities

Someone who is willing to commit domestic violence may be willing to commit escalating acts of violence when confronted. Rather than interjecting yourself into the situation and creating a dangerous predicament for all involved, choose to contact the police instead. For cases where violence is ongoing and the victim is in real danger, getting the police involved is the best way to move toward a satisfactory conclusion.