If you’re reading this, then you likely know someone who is currently a victim of domestic violence, or you were a victim yourself at some point. Either way, it’s a difficult and traumatic experience to go through. You might feel helpless and not know what to do, but there are actually quite a few things you can do to help domestic violence victims.

Here are six steps you can take if you want to help a domestic violence victim:

1. Believe them

One of the most important things you can do for a domestic violence victim is to believe them. It’s estimated that only around 30% of victims actually report their abuse, so it’s likely that many people in your life are suffering in silence. Also, an excellent piece of advice a domestic violence lawyer in Raleigh or any city with high domestic violence cases would give is to at least know the signs of domestic violence to further support their claim. If you notice the victim being socially withdrawn, having low self-esteem, or showing bruises, scratches, and other signs of physical abuse, you are more likely to corroborate their statement, especially when they need help in securing a protective order. 

Believe what they’re telling you, and let them know that you believe them. This can be a huge step in helping them feel supported and validated.

2. Listen to them

Emotional support is every bit as important as legal support. Listen to what the victim is saying, and try to understand their experiences. It can be difficult to hear about someone’s abuse, but it’s important to let them tell their story in their own words and at their own pace.

Reassure them that they are safe and you are all ears for them to talk to. Let them know that you’re there for them and that they can trust you. This is probably the most important thing you can do. Just being there for them and letting them know that you’re willing to listen (and not judge) can be incredibly helpful.

3. Offer support

Let the victim know that you’re there for them and that they can rely on you.

If you want to help a domestic violence victim, one of the best things you can do is offer your support to the victim in whatever way they need it. As mentioned earlier, this can include offering to listen, providing a shoulder to cry on, or helping with day-to-day tasks. Aside from emotional support, you should also offer practical support where possible. This could involve helping the victim to find a safe place to stay, assisting with financial matters, or connecting them with appropriate services.

It’s important to remember that you cannot “fix” the situation and that the victim will need to make their own decisions about what to do next. However, your support can be vital in helping them to cope with the situation and ultimately move on from it.

4. Help them develop a safety plan

If you want to help a domestic violence victim, one of the best things you can do is help them develop a safety plan. This can involve finding a safe place for them to stay, helping them get a restraining or protective order, and making sure they have access to resources like counseling and support groups.

You should also make sure they have a way to contact you or someone else they trust at all times, in case they need help. And, if possible, try to help them build a support network of friends or family members who can offer emotional and practical assistance. Safety should be the victim’s primary concern, so do whatever you can to help them stay safe.

5. Encourage them to get help

One way you can help a victim of domestic violence is by encouraging them to get help. This could mean suggesting they talk to a therapist or counselor, joining a support group, or even contacting a national helpline like the National Domestic Violence Hotline. You may also suggest legal assistance for them. Let them know that you are there for them and want to help them in any way you can. Domestic violence can have a lasting impact on someone’s mental and physical health, so it’s important to get help.

Let the victim know that you support their decision to seek help and that you’ll be there for them every step of the way.

6. Be patient

Recovering from domestic violence is a long and difficult process, so it’s important to be patient. The victim might not be ready to talk about their experiences right away, and that’s okay. Just let them know that you’re there for them when they’re ready.

a domestic violence woman visiting a psychologist

Domestic violence is a complex issue, but there are things you can do to help. Just remember to believe the victim, offer your support, and be patient.