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8 ways to help a victim of intimate partner violence
Reading time : 5 min
Witnessing a violent situation is always difficult for both family members and those who work to help victims. Friends, coworkers and family members often feel helpless when they are faced with so much pain and suffering and can be fearful for the victim’s safety. Counsellors, advocates, police officers and other professionals may feel powerless to help because the situation is beyond the victim's control.
Remain present in the victim's life
Preventing a victim from becoming isolated in their relationship improves their safety and that of their children.
Be alert not to be used by the abuser against the victim
Abusers often try to lie to and manipulate loved ones against the victim, in order to bias their opinion of the victim or the situation and to create conflict and isolation.
Be aware of the potential for danger
It is crucial to respect the victim’s decisions concerning their relationship and their partner, because the risk of the violence escalating and becoming more dangerous, is very real.
Help the victim come to their own conclusions about the situation
A victim of IPV is forced by the abusive partner to perceive the situation in a certain way, which may result in them not recognizing the abuser's behaviour as violent. In order to help, we must refrain from trying to impose our own perception of the situation, but rather try to help the victim come to their own conclusions, without any form of pressure.
Help the victim to regain power over their life
Victims of IPV are gradually deprived of the right to exercise their free will and make their own choices. It is thus very important to respect the decisions they makes for themselves and for their children, even when we might not understand or that we would have made a different choice for ourselves.
Act in a way that counteracts the impact of violence on the victim
Demonstrating your respect and mirroring back a positive self-image to the victim will help them to resist psychological violence and increase their resilience.
Offer your support and information about resources
Offering help, information and resources helps the victim regain control over their life, as long as the choices they makes afterward are respected. A victim may chose not to access a resource or not to accept an offer of support, but knowing that they exist and that they are available is beneficial in itself.
Avoid feeling helpless
Ask the victim if they want you to do something for them. If they say yes, help them find a way to answer that need. If they say no, take comfort in knowing that what you are already doing is meeting their current needs.
- 14 messages to convey to a victim of intimate partner violence
- 5 manifestations of violence that target the victim's social network
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Bien que la violence conjugale touche majoritairement des femmes, elle peut aussi toucher les hommes et les personnes issues de la diversité sexuelle et de genre. Les services de SOS violence conjugale sont offerts à toutes les personnes touchées par la problématique.