October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence is a crime that includes both physical and emotional abuse. It is frequently hidden from public view, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Many victims suffer in silence, afraid to seek help, or not knowing where to turn. If you need assistance or know someone who needs help, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
by Kat Davies
“Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly” (Colossians 3:19).
Unfortunately, domestic violence continues to be rife in the USA. One in every three women has experienced some degree of physical abuse at the hands of an intimate partner.
Through our Christian duty of serving others, we may find ourselves in a position to assist someone who is a victim of domestic abuse. An understanding ear and companionship can be a saving grace to someone lonely and in fear. Yet, we must remember a few things when reaching out to a victim of abuse.
Listen without judgment
The Bible tells us, “Judge not, and you will not be judged,” and that is the attitude we should use when engaging with a victim of domestic abuse. Due to the amount of shame and self-blame often attached to domestic abuse, many victims will find it hard to open up about their experiences. Yet, if someone does decide to talk to you about it, you must listen with an open heart and mind. If you listen to someone without passing judgment, you will find that they are far less reluctant to engage with you.
Help without being aggressive
When reaching out to someone who has been a victim of domestic abuse, you must be mindful of the type of advice you give. Instead of forcing someone in an abusive situation to act, reiterate the importance of their safety and happiness. And help them devise a plan that will allow them to leave without compromising their safety. Safety plans include finding a safe place to go to, acquiring legal help, and creating a support network. If you suspect abuse but have no proof, consider reiterating the importance of setting boundaries in a healthy relationship. When implemented from the get-go, these boundaries can contribute towards emotional and physical safety.
Always confirm their feelings
If you want to be a vessel of love, kindness, and faith, you need to confirm other people’s feelings, even if they seem contradictory and irrational. Women who are victims of domestic abuse often experience conflicting feelings towards their abuser and the situation they find themselves in. These feelings can range from love and hope to disgust, fear and despair, and can change at the drop of a hat. While some women living with abuse are aware of how wrong and harmful their situations are, others may have become so accustomed to their circumstances that they believe it is normal. It is essential to let them know that domestic abuse is never acceptable. Tell them you worry about their safety.
Domestic abuse continues to plague many women. When guided by our faith, we can be a source of support for these brave women.
Kat Davies is a freelance writer who enjoys contributing articles to various websites on the topics that matter to her. When she is not writing, she spends time exploring the great outdoors with her husband, their two daughters, and their two black Labradors. Kat is also a voracious reader and loves collecting first editions of early 20th-century literature.