By Marielena Leon,
HCIP Northwestern Counselor and Advocate
Survivors of DV face a lot of barriers, one of which is the lack of support or pressured support.
Being a support system for someone who is in an abusive relationship can be a bit confusing and at times enraging. Here are some things you should know about supporting your loved one through some very dark and hard times. The goal of being there for someone who is going through DV is not to try and convince them to leave, but instead the goal should be to let them know they are not alone and there are resources available. If as a support system you only focus on convincing a survivor to leave the relationship, you might push them away and the survivor might not want to confide in you or seek support, thus leaving them isolated in their relationship.
A survivor of domestic violence may have many reasons as to why they stay in the relationship, including economic dependence, children (and the fear of losing their children), no place to go or resources for support, isolation, fear of the abuse, cultural beliefs, and false promises. It is not easy for a survivor of domestic violence to leave their partner, so often the only thing you can do as their support system is to be there for them – let them know they have support and that they are not alone. You can support a survivor by providing information on resources, such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which can be reached at 877-863-6338, or CAWC’s emergency hotline, which can be reached at (773) 278-4566. Let them know that they can text or call this number for support, and they can also be connected to domestic violence shelters if they ever decide to leave the relationship.
Being a support system for a survivor can be very difficult, so be sure to also give yourself space for self-care. You can visit https://www.cawc.org/ or https://www.futureswithoutviolence.org/ for more information on domestic violence and the dynamics of intimate partner violence.