Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: What We Can Do For Others

Self esteem can be a factor in why we might accept unhealthy relationships or maltreatment from the people in our lives. When people don’t value themselves, an abuser can take advantage of these negative feelings and twist them to their advantage.

This isn’t to say that victims and survivors are to blame for their experiences with abuse. Leaving an abusive relationship can be extremely challenging, especially when the individual’s finances or personal lives are codependent. If we blame victims and survivors, we are letting the abuser win by not holding them accountable. Blasting out messages of empowerment and support for survivors and victims of abuse can be a great step. Equally important, is being an advocate for those who can't speak up for themselves by intervening.

Knowing the signs of unhealthy relationships means that you have the power to intervene. By simply saying something like “That’s not cool” when someone is verbally demeaning to their partner, or bringing up your concern for a friend or family member with I-statements like “I feel uncomfortable when your partner calls you all the time to check in, I don’t think he trusts you and that’s not fair.”

The "Bystander Effect" will commonly discourage us from intervening in situation we know are doing harm to others because we think things like "It's not my business" or "Someone else will say something." Too often, no one will say anything till it's too late. Here are some tips for intervening:

  • Keep yourself safe - don't take on anything that will put yourself in danger. 
  • If violence seems imminent, call authorities. Avoid using violence as an intervention strategy
  • Be direct and specific as possible about the behavior that you disapprove.
  • Recruit help, like friends, when necessary.
  • Make up a distraction to give the potential victim an out

Author: Morgen Snowadzky, Ujima Intern

Relevant resources:
If things don’t feel right, something is probably not right. Loveisrespect.org offers free, confidential online chatting to talk to someone about concerns around dating violence.OR Call the local help line at Women Against Abuse (1-866-723-3014)

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