Guest Post from Recovery Hope - Written by Caleb Anderson
When a loved one is in a bad situation at home, it can be difficult to imagine stepping in to help them. You may be worried that they’ll feel you are intruding or that the abuser’s behavior will only get worse if you speak up and your loved one continues to stay. Often, however, individuals who are living in an abusive situation don’t realize how bad things are until someone from the outside says something. With your help, your loved one may be able to clearly see how they are being affected by their abuser and take steps to leave.
Once they’re sure they want to leave, it’s time to create an action plan. Your loved one will need funds or access to savings, and they will need to find a safe place to live. If their new home won’t be ready for a while, they’ll need a place to stay where they feel comfortable in the meantime and come up with a plan for a quick move. If children are involved, it’s imperative to have a plan for a quick exit, so bags will need to be packed and already in the car, if possible.
It’s also very important that you understand the types of abuse that can occur. Your loved one may be dealing with emotional or physical issues from verbal, physical, or sexual abuse, and this can have far-reaching impacts on their life for years to come if they aren’t handled carefully. Help your loved one look for a therapist or counselor who can help them cope.
4 Ways to Help Your Loved One Get Out of an Abusive Situation
Trying to force your loved one into leaving their situation is never a good idea, as it may only cause tension between the two of you, even though you’re only trying to help.
“It’s alarming when someone you care about is being abused, and you may be tempted to launch a rescue and take charge to get your friend or loved one “out," states Dr. Shawn M. Burn, a psychology professor at California Polytechnic State University, “but people that are abused and controlled by their intimate partner don’t respond well to helpers that try to “boss them” into immediate action. Experts say that’s because it can feel like more abuse and control.”
Instead, tell your loved one that you are sorry they’re going through such a difficult time, that you care about them, and that you are concerned for their safety. Be careful about using blame words, as many survivors of abuse feel that the violence is their fault.
Help Them Create a Plan
A good plan will help your loved one feel in control, so talk to them about how they want to go about leaving. If there are children who need to get out of the situation as well, your loved one will need to talk to them about the plan, especially if there’s a possibility that the abuser will become violent when they try to leave. Having friends like yourself there at the time may help diffuse the situation and allow your loved one to feel safer.
Help Them Feel Safe
Often, the thought of moving away from the place they’ve called home for a long time or away from financial security is terrifying for survivors of abuse. In fact, these are often the reasons they stay with their abusers, especially if there are children to take care of. Help your loved one feel safe by looking for the right place to live after they leave. It should be in an area that is populated rather than isolated, and there should be security systems in place.
Typically, after leaving abusive situations, victims will have developed mental and emotional distress. These wounds are usually harder to heal than any bruises they might have received, and many will experience anxiety and PTSD flashbacks. Encourage your loved one to seek out counseling treatment to overcome the daily fears they might be living with. Make it as easy as possible for them to find a reputable counselor trained in helping abuse patients.