Supporting Domestic Violence Survivors

When those affected by abuse, violence, and maltreatment make the choice to seek help, the response they receive can make the world of a difference. This is especially true for domestic violence survivors who are escaping an abusive relationship, sometimes with children. Outlined in our Intimate Partner Violence textbook, here are some important points to keep in mind to maintain a positive response to survivors.

Prioritize the safety of victims and their children

The most important point to keep in mind, safety can be established by aiding in the development of a safety plan. Helping victims find the right resources is also vital to safety. Additionally, it is important to advocate on behalf of survivors and their children. Avoid sympathizing with the actions of the abuser.

Respect the choices of the survivor

There should never be pressure on the survivor to accept the plan of anyone on the outskirts of the situation. In some cases, groundwork must be done to fully protect the victim and children, which can prevent them from leaving immediately. If a victim leaves because they are told to do so, they are more likely to return, making seemingly helpful efforts counterproductive.

Perpetrators are responsible for their behavior

Abusers believe their actions are a result of an outside factor and not an internal issue. Abusers will try to blame the victim, substance abuse, or a poor upbringing, but ultimately they must be held accountable for their actions.

View symptoms within the context of ongoing trauma and danger

Helping victims recognize they may have sustained psychological, social, and moral injuries as well as physical injuries help reduce the stigma associated with domestic violence.

Understand and respect cultural differences

Cultural competency is important to serve a variety of victims and gives the survivor hope that their situation will be taken seriously without barriers. Language barriers should be taken care of with a translator.

Keeping these points in mind not only help the survivor escape the violence they face in their relationship, but it will help them heal faster and healthier in the long run. Although everyone should apply these points when approached by a domestic violence survivor asking for help, these are especially important for those who work directly with victims. For more information on what we do, visit our website or subscribe to our newsletter.


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