Domestic abuse differs from other types of violence because in many cases, the victims of domestic violence incidents rarely report the crime. Violence can go on behind closed doors for years without anyone knowing the extent of the abuse. At the same time, family members, friends, and neighbors may turn a blind eye to abuse because “it’s not their business.”
How to Respond to Domestic Abuse Suspicions
What is the appropriate response if you suspect that someone you know is being harmed by domestic abuse? Obviously, the answer depends on your relationship with the family, how sure you are that abuse is taking place, and the scale of the problem. However, there are some broad guidelines to follow:
- Look for the signs and symptoms of abuse. One unexplained injury or overheard fight might not be enough to determine if someone is being abused by their partner or family member. However, if you see several signs of abuse over a period of time, you may have good reason to be concerned.
- Voice your concern. If you are close with the domestic violence victim, approach them at a safe time and tell them that you are concerned about the situation. Keep in mind that the abuser may isolate his or her victim and make it difficult for you to access them. Also keep in mind that the victim may be in denial.
- Share resources. Your friend or family member might not know that there are options for escape, help, or relief. Be sure that they know that there are people who can help – but also be sure not to give the victim anything his or her abuser might find.
- Try not to give advice. It can be hard not to start statement with “You should…” but it simply isn’t best for the victim – someone who is probably often told what to do and how to act. Instead, give them support and useful information.
- Let them know you care. More than anything, let your friend or relative know that you are there to help and support them through the situation. Many victims of domestic violence feel isolated and believe there is no one on their side.
- Call the police during suspected domestic violence incidents. If you are hearing what may be a violent fight or a situation in which a victim could be in danger, call the police. Tell them that you suspect abuse. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Are you involved in a Washington domestic violence situation that requires legal assistance? The Seattle domestic violence attorneys at the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny may be able to help. Contact us today at 425-460-0550 to set up a private meeting.