October is over, but the need for abuse awareness is not
Published 5:24 pm Thursday, October 31, 2019
By ANDREA LEWIS
Our community stepped up to show support for survivors during last month’s National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Now and going forward, we must continue to talk about the issue.
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Maybe you have heard or even said the words, “What happens in their home is none of my business.” Abusive partners count on us to sweep our suspicions and concerns under the rug to honor family privacy. Isolation from family and friends is perhaps the most common way abusive partners maintain power and control over victims.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to begin the conversation with someone who is being abused. Keep in mind that your support role is to help them make their own decisions, not rescue them. Believe the stories they tell you. Listen more than you talk. Avoid saying what you would do. Instead, say you are really worried about their safety and ask if they have a safety plan.
If they are open to it, suggest they contact our crisis hotline. At GreenHouse17, we are here 24 hours a day, every day of the year to answer questions. Respect your friend or family member’s decision, even if they decide to stay.
Statistically, leaving is the most dangerous time for a survivor, and right now, it may be safest for them to stay. Becoming familiar with things to consider when making a safety plan to leave is a good way to offer your support.
If you are reading this article as a survivor of intimate partner abuse, have you made healing a priority? Do you have a strong support network of family and friends?
Many times, friendships need to be mended or ended to help you heal after abuse. Perhaps your partner would not allow you to stay employed or charged up credit cards in your name, and you still suffer the financial consequences.
The journey to overcome abuse is different for every survivor, but healing and stability are possible. In the meantime, remember to prioritize your physical and emotional health.
Healing is easier when our bodies are healthy and strong. If you need more support, call us to talk about services available to you, and ask for the days and times of survivor support groups in our area.
As Lao Tzu once said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” As a survivor, you do not have to walk this journey alone. We are here for you, and we are here to walk alongside you as you begin to heal. To access our 24-hour crisis hotline, call (800) 544-2022.
Andrea Lewis is a licensed clinical social worker and a certified domestic violence advocate for GreenHouse17, a nonprofit assisting victims of domestic violence.