Respond to a Survivor
The Do's When Responding to a Survivor...
- Listen without judgement.
- Let him/her know you support and care, help him/her to understand that he/she is not responsible for the violence.
- Explain that any type of violence in a relationship is not acceptable.
- Explain that he/she is not alone, domestic violence occurs in millions of homes each year.
- Let him/her know that help is available if there is a decision to leave.
- Explain that you take violence very seriously.
- Try to rebuild his/her self-esteem: you are very brave, smart, etc.
- Encourage him/her to build a wide support system involving family, friends, support group etc.
The Do Not's When Responding to a Survivor...
- Do not try to make decisions for him/her.
- Do not use confidentiality as an excuse to not act.
- Do not interview a victim and a abuser as a couple, don't attempt to counsel them together in order to stop the abuser's violence.
- Do not minimize the incidents that a victim shares with you (what they tell you is usually just the tip of the iceberg).
- Do not refer couples who you suspect are dealing with abuse to marriage enrichment programs, communication workshops, etc.
- Do not try to deal with the problem alone -- Refer.
- Do not become emotionally intimate with a victim. They may be vulnerable and may be looking for intimate comfort or dependency.
- Do not be taken in by a batterer's claim to a religious conversion experience.
- Do not help the batterer avoid legal consequences to violent behavior by providing a character witness or act as an advocate for this purpose.
Things You Can Say When Responding to a Survivor...
- I'm afraid for your safety.
- I'm afraid for the safety of your children.
- I am here for you when you are ready to talk.
- You deserve to be safe.
- Let's try to figure out a safety plan for when you've made the decision to leave.