How Can I Help?
Feeling powerless to help yourself, a friend or a loved one in pain is devastating. Right now, the situation for those in abusive relationships is particularly dangerous, as stay-at-home orders from the state severely limit a survivor's ability to get away from their situation, even for a limited time, and that inability to get away can result in quicker and further escalation. This might be happening to you, or to someone you love, or to someone in your apartment building or workplace that you care about. It is easy to feel helpless, it is easy to do nothing for fear of making the situation worse for them, but there are a few steps you can take that although they may seem minor, may make a huge difference in helping that survivor. 1. Familiarize yourself with the patterns of domestic violence and how it works. There are several resources available online which can provide more information. Remember that domestic violence is about power and control, not poverty, alcoholism, religion, or gender and that different types of abusers do what they do for different reasons. Keep a file of these resources, and be ready to talk about them with the survivor if the opportunity presents itself. If you have questions, you can always call our 24-hour hotline at 785-843-3333
2. Try to maintain some form of contact with the survivor. For most abusers, isolation is a huge part of their control, and by maintaining that contact, you give them a safe place to go. With face-to-face opportunities not currently an option, try contacting them via Facebook Messenger, text, or an online conference platform like Zoom.com. Be sure to establish with them that they are safe to talk, and be aware that some survivors may have their computers or phones monitored, so let them guide the conversation. Be aware that for some survivors, calling the police could do them more harm than good in their situation, so check in with them about this if you can. 3. Know what services are available. Keep up to date with local shelter services, their hours, their donation needs, and their recommendations. Right now shelter's policies are changing rapidly based on information from public health officials. Sign up for your local shelter's mailing list, keep an eye on their social media, and contact them before telling survivors what their options are. 4. Remember, the survivor knows their situations best. Though you may feel that they need to get into shelter right away, they may have very good reasons for needing to stay. The best thing you can do is to provide information to help them make the most informed choice.
5. Keep a log of incidents, no matter how small. Any conversations you have where the survivor references an argument or incident of abuse, write down the date and time. These logs may be helpful later on should the survivor go through the court system. 6. If they can't leave, help them safety plan. Safety planning involves going through and methodically listing steps to take to prepare for leaving, safe places within the home, plans for where to go in the house to be safe, and how to keep pets and family members safe as well. There are a few excellent safety planning resources online.
If you can donate to your local domestic violence organization, it will truly make a difference in providing life-saving services at a time of national crisis. Now more than ever domestic violence shelters nationwide are trying to navigate the ever-changing landscape of balancing public health and providing services. For more information on The Willow's COVID-19 policies, click here. For more information on national resources, click here. The Willow's 24-hour hotline is 785-843-3333, website willowdvcenter.org