3/31/2010

How to help a domestic violence victim - the "don'ts" of helping

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      When helping a domestic violence victim there is 2 fast "don'ts".  Never make decisions for a victim. Never put yourself in danger when helping. This includes physical danger but also emotional and financial. Maintain your safety by creating boundaries . 

     Encourage a victim to work with a trained advocate to develop a domestic violence safety plan and to use it. The best resource for safety planning is the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Not only can they help the victim create a plan but they can give referrals to local programs too.

     If a victim is in immediate physical danger calling 911 is probably the victim's best option. This is a judgement call that only the victim can make. Do not put yourself in danger by trying to do the job of the police.

      On the subject of finances... Domestic violence victims often need money. This doesn't mean that you have to mortgage your home or sell your belongings. Again, entourage the victim to work with a trained
     advocate. The advocate will know what resources exist that may be able to help. 

      Taking care of your emotional well being is important too. It's hard to help someone else if you aren't emotionally ok. Be aware of your own needs for support and create a good support system for yourself. 

     In the next few days, we'll be talking more about how to help victims of domestic violence. In the meantime, if you are trying to help a victim of domestic violence think about these  "don't" rules. Make a safety plan for yourself. Decide how you can keep yourself safe but still help a victim of domestic violence.

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