Resources for Family and Friends of Abuse Survivors
Learning that your loved one is or was a victim of abuse can certainly be difficult. You may want to be there to love and support them, but are also unsure of what to say or what to do. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach for how to respond when you find out that someone you love has survived abuse – each situation is different. However, the following resources for family and friends of abuse survivors is a great place to start.
When a survivor comes out to you and tells you their story, recognize that they have chosen to trust you. Be respectful of this and really listen to what they are telling you. It’s okay to express sadness or anger, but try to put them at ease, as well. Let them know that you hear them and that you are there for them, however they need you to be.
Being supportive can mean different things to different people. Perhaps your loved one is seeking medical attention or plans to report the abuse. Offer to be there with them. Maybe they just need someone to talk to and a shoulder to lean on. Or, maybe they just don’t want to be alone. Whatever support means to them, try to be that for them.
It can be difficult to hear of your loved one’s abuse; however, you don’t want to make matters worse by catastrophizing their experience. Validate your loved one’s feelings about the experience and acknowledge the pain or emotions that they are feeling. But, don’t give unsolicited advice or mandate what he or she should do next.
Other Resources and Support
There are plenty of resources and support groups for family and friends of abuse survivors, like the following: