How to help someone who is suffering from domestic abuse

Domestic abuse is alarmingly common in the U.S. Sadly, about 10 million Americans suffer from domestic or family abuse every single year. If someone you love is in a bad or dangerous situation, you may feel a variety of emotions, including anger, sadness, fear and confusion.

Because domestic abuse can be isolating, your friend or relative may need some outside assistance. Here are some ways you can help someone who is suffering from domestic abuse.

Recognize the emotional warning signs

Identifying domestic abuse is not always a simple endeavor, as both the victim and the abuser may try to hide abusive behaviors. Nonetheless, if you notice the following, your loved one may be suffering from domestic or family abuse:

  • Depression
  • Meekness
  • Fear or anxiety
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Lack of interest in hobbies, exercise or activities
  • Substance abuse

Develop a safety plan

Victims of domestic abuse may be in imminent physical or emotional danger. Even if the person is not yet ready to leave the abusive situation permanently, developing a safety plan may be a short-term solution.

The safety plan may include a ready excuse to leave the situation, a secure place to go and an emergency bag. You may also want to identify a code word your loved one can use  to ask for help if his or her safety is in jeopardy.

Explore protective orders

Because domestic abuse can be life-threatening, you may need to help your loved one obtain a protective order. A protective order may prevent the abuser from contacting the victim or interacting with him or her. Protective orders are usually available for victims of domestic abuse and their children.

With domestic abuse, an unideal situation can become a critical emergency in a matter of seconds. By being a reliable and available resource for your loved one, you may help him or her get to a safer and emotionally healthier place in life.

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