Women who are being abused by their partners often carry around shame and guilt for their violence. They are isolated from community supports, and feel they have nowhere to turn. Our communities must be prepared to recognize violence and provide support for victims in order to turn around this epidemic of violence. We all must know the signs:
- Injuries that don’t match the explanation or recurrent injuries
- Fear or anxiety about a partner’s response to a situation
- Reluctance to participate in activities without a partner’s permission
- Withdrawal from family, friends and social situations
Each of us can be the bridge a woman needs to safety in her life. We can help her to change her situation. The first step is to listen to her and believe her. She may never have been able to share this before, so she may need to talk for a while. It is important to let her know that you believe her. If anything, she is likely minimizing the violence she has experienced. It is every bit as difficult as she is telling you. The next step is to connect her with supportive services. Your local domestic violence agency is a powerful resource and ally for her. Help her get in touch with the agency by sitting with her and helping her with the contact. Finally, she needs you to keep the door open and help break the isolation she is experiencing. She may not be ready to leave. She may not be ready to do anything. Just by talking to her and listening to her, your support can help her start to see her way to safety – the first step on her path.