Domestic abuse is a serious and widespread problem that has been difficult to solve, largely due to reluctance on the part of victims and their families to discuss the issue. We believe it is important for everyone to understand the facts surrounding domestic violence.
There are many reasons why a woman might stay in, or return to, an abusive environment. They include:
- fear of reprisal
- reluctant to break up the family
- concern about children’s welfare and/or about losing custody
- lack of money, job skills and/or opportunities
- concern about pets, property, possessions
- fear of being alone
- cultural, religious beliefs
- pressure from family, friends
- feelings of shame and embarrassment
- believe abuser’s promises to change
Women attempt to leave an average of six to seven times before making the final move away from an abusive relationship.
Victims may not report assault for several reasons including fear of retaliation, lack of knowledge about legal rights, and concern that they won’t be believed. They may feel intimidated by the criminal justice system or worry that the police and courts will not protect them adequately.
If you know someone who is a victim of domestic violence, encourage her to contact the local women’s shelter. Experienced, empathetic counselors will be able to provide confidential information, advice and help her to develop a safety plan.
In addition, you can help by offering support, information and assistance in accessing community programs.
- Let her know you are there to help.
- Listen to her without being critical or judgmental.
- Assure her that she is not to blame for the abuse and that she is not alone.
- Help her provide for any immediate medical and personal needs and make sure that she and her children are safe.
- Gather and pass on information about relevant community programs and assistance: shelters, sexual assault centres, legal aid, financial assistance, etc.
- Offer to play a role in her safety plan which might involve: providing emergency shelter; providing transportation; safeguarding pre-packed luggage, documents and/or money that would be required in an emergency.
- Give her time to make her own decisions and respect her confidentiality.
If you have a question about domestic abuse, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 519.752.HELP (4357).