Women at risk of harm need a safety plan, a set of strategies worked out ahead of time to help escape a dangerous situation. A woman in imminent danger should call the police immediately.
Some Basic Tips
- Find a private time and place to speak to her
- Don’t be afraid to let her know that you are concerned for her safety. Help her to recognize the abuse. Tell her you see what is going on and want to help. Help them recognize that what is happening is not normal and that they deserve a healthy, non-violent relationship.
- Acknowledge that she is in a very difficult and scary situation. Let her know she is not alone, you believe her, and it is not her fault.
- Listen. Be supportive. What they need most is someone who will believe them and listen to them.
- Don’t offer advice, offer support and choices. Be non-judgmental. Respect their decisions – there are many reasons why victims stay in abusive relationships.
- Help her to develop a safety plan.
- Let her know there are many people available to help. Encourage her to talk to people who can provide help and guidance. Provide information on local resources such as the shelter crisis line
- Remember that you cannot rescue her. While it is difficult to watch someone you care about get hurt, the ultimate decision to make a change is theirs. It’s important for you to support them and help them find a way to safety and peace.
Guiding Principles for Intervention
- Safety is the priority – ask if she is in danger and what she needs to be safe;
- She is the expert of her life;
- Your response could put her at greater risk so proceed with caution;
- Every woman is unique: ask her what she needs and don’t make assumptions;
- If you feel uncomfortable or unprepared to assist, get help.