Find the motivation to help a victim
If we witness a car crash, we are motivated to call for help. If our child is bullied, we intervene and protect. We view ourselves as compassionate, yet how often do we step up and help someone who is being abused at home?
As we go about our everyday lives, we come in contact with people who have been or are currently victims of domestic violence. These victims live in fear, and don’t see an escape. They are kept isolated from others. They may believe that they need to stay with their partner for the sake of their children, or because it is their duty to stay. They carry the hope that life will get better, and that abuse will not repeat itself. With one in four women reporting having been in a violent partner relationship, it is very likely, that on any given day, we are interacting with someone who is scared of the person with whom they share their lives intimately, and to whom they have made a life commitment.
So what if the answer as to why we don’t step up and help is that we don’t know abuse is taking place. We can learn some of the outward signs: frequent absences from work, unexplained depressed mood, complaints of fatigue, the lessening of interaction with friends and co-workers, deterioration in job performance, increased alcohol or drug use, unexpected refusals to social engagements, unexplained bruises, common stress-related health issues, and elevated anxiety.
What if we suspect abuse, but don’t know how to help? The words, “May I ask, are you OK at home?” can start the helping process. Listen to their story, remain non-judgmental, give support, offer suggestions for community resources and don’t tell them what to do. These actions help victims feel less lonely, and empower them to make their own decisions.
What if we don’t feel we understand the nature of abuse, or fear that by involving ourselves in the lives of others, we will end up in the mix of the problem? Then get more information. Call agencies like Tri-County Council. These agencies’ services are not just for primary victims.
So pledge to recognize domestic violence, and do something the next time you suspect it. You just may save a life. The only thing standing in the way of you getting involved is the desire to do so. For more information, call (800) 236-1222.
Lynn Feldman, Rhinelander
Advocate, Tri-County Council