Social service and empowerment
It’s not easy to watch someone being abused. Shelter staff can provide useful resources and tools to help you better support this person and yourself. Learn more by calling us today to talk. All conversations are confidential.
Abuse is common
One in four women will become a victim of assault at some point in their life, and one in three women will experience some form of relationship abuse (Statistics Canada). We cannot know what women and children are experiencing at home and it is important for everyone to be aware of how common abuse is.
These statistics mean that abuse is an issue that touches the lives of people we know in some way, and that most people will find themselves in the position of supporting a loved one who is involved in an abusive relationship. Knowing that someone you care about is being abused, especially if there are children involved, can make you feel helpless, frustrated and concerned for their safety. You may feel like the person is not hearing your concern for them, or wonder why they don’t just leave the relationship that seems so unhealthy.
The dynamics of abuse are complex and there are many reasons that women struggle to leave abusive relationship. Every victim of abuse has their own process, history and set of challenges that may be difficult for other people to truly understand. Abuse tends to isolate victims and wear down their self-esteem, making it hard for them to believe that they deserve respect and can have a better life. It’s important not to cut off ties or abandon a woman who is experiencing abuse, because this can negatively impact her risk and vulnerability.
Listen to her and believe what she tells you. Remind her often that abusive behaviour is unacceptable and that she does not deserve to be treated this way.
Don’t let her blame herself for the abuse. Remind her that her partner chooses his or her own behaviours and that she does not cause the abuse. Remind her that she can only make decisions for herself and she cannot change the behaviour of the abuser.
Provide her with information and options. Tell her what you are willing to do to support her. The Revelstoke Women’s Shelter can provide you with safe ways for a woman to carry phone numbers and information about services, as well as information about abuse that is written specifically for women in crisis. We have tools to assist with safety planning and a crisis line to call for support.
Accept her right to make her own decisions. It can take a long time for a woman to decide to leave an abusive relationship and they often return to the relationship several times before they leave for good. It’s not easy to leave an abusive relationship. Be patient as she works through this process.
Continue to stand by her. Friends and family sometimes become frustrated when a woman returns to an abusive relationship repeatedly, or refuses to leave her abusive partner. Other times, the abusive partner tries to isolate the woman from supportive loved ones. Isolation is one of the most severe risk factors in an abusive relationship because it cuts the victim off from all other sources of support besides the abuser. Make sure she knows you are there for her and reduce her isolation. This makes it more likely that she will eventually break free from the abuse.
Get support for yourself. Contact the Revelstoke Women’s Shelter to speak with a trained staff member. We can help you understand why your loved one is in this situation and what you can do to help and support her.
Accept your limitations. All you can do is stand by your friend or family member. You cannot make decisions for her nor can you change the behaviour of her abusive partner.
Intervene when children are at risk. Witnessing abuse has serious consequences for children. Children who grow up in abusive situations are at much higher risk for either becoming a victim or an abuser as well as many other social problems. Children see, hear and understand much more than adults realize. Every citizen has a responsibility to report child abuse and situations that put children at risk.
Take action to create change. The Revelstoke Women’s Shelter offers many ways for community members to get involved and take a stand to end abuse.