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8 Ways to Be an Ally to Someone Experiencing Abuse

Domestic violence and sexual abuse/assault is something that has happened to me and something I would never wish upon anyone, not even my worst enemy. Getting abused has messed up my life in so many ways and it feels like it ruined me as a person because I was entranced by my abuser and was told I wasn’t good enough for anyone besides him. I was treated like a toy and didn’t even know I was getting abused until I was already in his trap.

I had to learn the hard way that what he did to me wasn’t love and wasn’t him being attracted to me. After a lot of reflection and research, I came to the conclusion that his actions were abusive. Further research and reflection led to understanding what assault is, and how that one night where it was a little too aggressive and out of the ordinary was sexual assault. I have learned a lot in these past two years and I’m so happy that I am able to share my stories with the world.

What inspired me to write today’s post was the amazing feedback that I have received from my previous abuse/assault stories. I really feel like I have made a difference by sharing my truth and being able to speak on such hard discussion topics.

With that being said, this week I wrote this story so we could all try and be allies for the beautiful people who have experienced abuse. I have never written a “how to” before, so please bear with me!

Also, one thing I really want to touch base on real quick is the fact that these issues happen to both women and men. I try to stay away from only talking about women when it comes to these issues because we need to be allies for everyone who is getting abused. Not just women and not just men. About one in four women and nearly one in 10 men have experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime. That’s too many.

Below I have listed eight steps you can take to help stop domestic and sexual violence and be an ally to your friends who may be in an abusive situation.

1. Know the signs.

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone at any time. Sometimes it may take a short period of time for violence to begin or it can take many many months. We need to be wary of the red flags because generally there are warning signs of abuse. We need to do our part and be able to identify them before it’s too late. Here are some red flags that an abuser may exhibit:

  • Being jealous of your friends or time spent away from them. This only happened to me once before we broke up. I was hanging out with my best guy friend while my abuser was performing with his band. When I told him I was there he got so mad and told me he didn’t want me to be friends with them and that I needed to go home. Being the good girlfriend that I was, I listened to him and I still haven’t seen those friends since.
  • Embarrassing you or shaming you. He did this to me right away when we started seeing each other. I was sitting at the dinner table with him and his parents and he told his parents that I was unemployed. I was so shocked and embarrassed to see their unimpressed look on their face. I was only unemployed for a short time, but he had to make it known to everyone that I didn’t have a job. At the time, I didn’t know that was a red flag.
  • Making you feel guilty for all the problems in the relationship. He always made me feel like everything was my fault. He would get so angry and start punching walls or the dresser in his room and made it known that it was “my fault.”
  • Pressuring you to have sex when you don’t want to. I have said many many times that this has happened to me. I was pressured, at one time forced, to have sex when I didn’t want to. It was traumatizing and is something I still think about all the time.
  • Intimidating you physically. This happened to me mostly in the bedroom (TMI I know). That’s when there was physical violence towards me and a lot of intimidation because he was so much stronger than me.

2. Don’t ignore it.

Many times police hear the same thing when talking to witnesses: “I didn’t want to get involved.” If you hear your neighbors engaged in a potentially violent situation, call the police. It’s the right thing to do.

3. Lend an ear. 

A lot of times we never hear about domestic violence situations because the person who experienced abuse never speaks up. That’s because when they try and confide in people they may be shut down and told they are either lying or overreacting. This type of behavior needs to stop. If a survivor comes to you to talk, please believe them, hear them and be there for them. It could save their life.

4. Be available.

Always be ready to help. If someone you know is in fear of their violent situation escalating, you can be readily available in their time of need. Keep your phone with you, make sure you have gas in your car and discuss an escape plan or meeting place ahead of time.

5. Check in regularly.

If a loved one is in danger, reach out regularly to check on their well being.

6. Be a resource.

Some people experiencing violence may not be able to research shelters, escape plans or be able to set up necessities like bank accounts and cell phones. Offer to help them with these tasks to ease the stress and keep things confidential.

7. Write it down.

Document every incident you either see or hear about and include date, time, location and if there were any injuries caused. This information is very helpful for police when investigating situations like these.

8. Get the word out.

Volunteer at a local domestic abuse shelter or domestic violence organization in your community. Join the discussion while bringing the conversation to your church, place of work or when you’re hanging out with your friends. Talking about these issues will help spread awareness!

Thank you for sticking around this long and reading something I think is so important! Being able to talk about these serious issues can help so many people get the help they need. We have to be an ally to our friends, family members and people in our community, because most of the time their abuser won’t let them raise their voices to these issues. If someone you know is in a dangerous situation, do not sit idly by and wait until it’s too late. Being there for your loved ones can save their lives.

I kept my abuse silent until I couldn’t take it anymore. I lost control of my life and doubted myself because I was scared that people weren’t going to believe me. When I finally decided to speak my truth, I got nothing but support from everyone! It gave me a confidence boost because my story has touched so many people and has hopefully made an impact in my community. My story has inspired me to be there for the people who need me. My door and messages are open for you if you need to chat! I have educated myself enough to know that I am needed and my story needs to be shared. Abuse survivors like myself should not be ashamed to speak their truth! Your truth is important and I am here to listen. I see you. I hear you. I believe you. I am here for you. Using these steps from above can make a difference. Let’s actively use them and work on spreading awareness together!

Getty image by Ponomariova_Maria

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