Silence and lack of knowledge about domestic violence and sexual assault play a large part in why they persist. In Utah, women experienced 169,156 intimate partner-related physical assaults and rapes each year. In addition to the immediate trauma caused by abuse, domestic violence contributes to a number of chronic health problems including depression and substance abuse and often limits the ability to manage other chronic illnesses. Lupe Cruz, SNM, DNP and Certified Nurse Midwife from LDS Hospital gives you tips on how to identify domestic violence and sexual assault so you can help someone who may need support.
One important thing to remember: You are not alone in this. Hotlines take many, many calls from concerned friends and family who do not know what to do. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. These can be difficult, delicate conversations and it’s natural to want some guidance.
How to Help
If someone you know discloses that they are experiencing abuse now or have been abused or sexually assaulted in the past, remember this could be the first time they’re telling someone. Listening and letting the person know they’re not alone can make a huge difference.
Let them know the abuse is not their fault. Reassure them that there is help and support out there. Let them know that you are available to help whenever they may need it. Respect your friend or family member’s decisions. There are many reasons why victims stay in abusive relationships. They may leave and return to the relationship many times. Do not criticize their decisions or try to guilt them. They will need your support even more during those times.
Encourage them to get involved.
Participating in activities outside of the relationship and spending time with friends and family can be an important step for someone in an abusive relationship to take. Support is critical and the more they feel supported by people who care for them, the easier it will be for them to take the steps necessary to get and stay safe away from their abusive partner. Remember that you can call the hotline to find local support groups and information on staying safe.
Encourage them to seek help.
Find a local domestic violence agency that provides counseling or support groups. Offer to go with them. If they have to go to the police, court or a lawyer’s office, offer to go along for moral support.
Remember that you cannot “rescue” them.
Although it is difficult to see someone you care about get hurt, ultimately they are the one who has to make the decisions about what they want to do. It’s important for you to support them no matter what they decide, and help them find a way to safety and peace.
If you or someone you love is in a violent relationship, these FREE hotlines are open 24 hours a day/7 days a week:
Utah Domestic Violence Link Line
Rape & Sexual Assault Crisis Line
Visit www.LDSHospital.com/healthyliving for more LiVe Well topics.