How to Help Someone Who Is Experiencing Domestic Violence

Nearly one in every four women and one in seven men have experienced domestic abuse. Despite how frequently it occurs, most don’t know how to help when domestic violence happens to someone they know.

One commonly asked question is, “Why don’t they just leave?”

Most domestic violence situations are complicated by multiple factors. Abusers use fears as leverage in order to trap a survivor or limit their options. For example, a male client once told us he stayed with his abuser because he felt it would make his kids safer. He said that if she was hitting him, then he knew she wasn’t hitting their kids. To him, this was far more important than his own physical safety. Further complicating the matter, many male survivors perceive that they will struggle in court to prove that they are victims of abuse and that they should retain sole custody of their children.

Listen and empower

Each situation is different. The best thing you can do to help is to be an advocate—listen and support, offer counsel, but always remember that abuse is a form of control. Empowering survivors means encouraging them to make their own decisions. After all, they’re the ones who have to live with the consequences.

Making sure victims don’t feel alone is also important. Abusers are often able to perpetuate their abuse because they isolate their victims. Refer them to a domestic violence hotline, such as our 24/7 help hotline at 540-580-0775. You can also click here to learn more about our program for domestic violence survivors.

How to help if you think someone is in danger

Learning these facts will help you become more informed, but it’s only the first step. Research and share information about the resources in your area. Recommending specific resources and how they help can increase the likelihood of the person using those resources—it could make the difference between life and death.

If you or someone you know has been abused, TAP Domestic Violence Services has a 24/7 hotline at 540-580-0775. If you are unsure of the local resources in your region, call the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. We can all be a source of hope.