October is Domestic Abuse Awareness month. Domestic abuse is something that 75% of women have experienced, yet few and far between actually talk about or seek help for. I will admit, I was one of those women, silently suffering, hoping that some miracle would happen to rescue me from the situation, and luckily, one did. Few know about my experience, but those who do don't know how to react. Oftentimes, people feel awkward, over-protective, indignant, etc. These feelings may be warranted, but they are not beneficial for the abused. Below are some ways to reach out to the women close to your hearts that are trying to mend their own hearts.
1. Be a listening ear. Its what the abused woman needs the most. Really opening up about the abuse is a rarity, don't squander the opportunity. Hear her out, listen more than you speak. She has a lot of pain, anger, hurt, sadness and confusion that has built up. Let her release it. Listen, and don't talk unless she asks you. Chances are, she isn't looking for a fix-it man, she is looking for a companion and a comforter.
2. Be non-judgemental.She has gone through more than anyone should have to. Don't add insult to injury. Hug her, smile at her, and tell her you love her. There are many stages of grief and recovery, and she is going through feelings and emotions that you aren't. While you think she needs to "leave that scumbag," she might not be in that mental place yet. Give her time, and if she doesn't do things the way you feel they need to be done, be patient. Love is the best director.
3. Help her with day to day life. Small tasks seem daunting when your life is crumbling. Getting out of bed is like climbing Mt. Everest. When she's sleeping she isn't getting rest and when she is smiling, she is crying on the inside. Help her in any way possible. If she has children, take them out for a fun event (they will need some fun in life too) and give her some time to cry. Do the dishes, sweep her floors, and run to the grocery for her. Anything to ease some of her burden. Don't ask her, just do it! Give her the number for the Domestic Abuse Hotline. Let her know that there are resources available to her. Do the research and present your findings to her. She might not have the strength or the will to do it herself.
4. Love her unconditionally. When a woman is abused, she feels unlovable. Prove to her that she is lovable. Show her that she is special. Renew that feeling of self worth in her. Tell her specific things that you love about her, and let her know that she means something to you. I can't stress the importance of this enough. Let her feel your love.
5. Encourage her. This goes along with showing her love. Tell her that she is strong. Tell her that she is courageous. Tell her that this is hard, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Let her know that you have her back. She isn't alone and will always have your support.
6. Be understanding, but understand that you will never fully understand. The pain of domestic abuse is haunting. Some people fail to realize the pain, while others think they fully know the pain. Neither way of thinking is benificial for the abused. Unless you have been abused, you won't be able to fully comprehend the anguish.
- Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten.
- Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family.
- Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.
- Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.
- Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.
- Everyday in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.
- Ninety-two percent of women surveyed listed reducing domestic violence and sexual assault as their top concern.
- Domestic violence victims lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the US alone—the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs.
- Based on reports from 10 countries, between 55 percent and 95 percent of women who had been physically abused by their partners had never contacted non-governmental organizations, shelters, or the police for help.
- The costs of intimate partner violence in the US alone exceed $5.8 billion per year: $4.1 billion are for direct medical and health care services, while productivity losses account for nearly $1.8 billion.
- Men who as children witnessed their parents’ domestic violence were twice as likely to abuse their own wives than sons of nonviolent parents.