For most women, living with domestic violence can be one of the most difficult, overwhelming and stressful times in their life.
They may be struggling with the weight of financial abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse or even terrorising psychological and physical abuse.
They may be worried for themselves, and in many cases, for their children.
They may be worried about how they will pay their mortgage, their food bill or their next car payment. Maybe they even worry about school expenses and medication costs.
Obviously, each set of circumstances are different but no matter who it is, what they are experiencing or how 'bad' it is, they are likely to feel isolated, scared, disconnected, vulnerable, week, lost, hopeless and totally 'lifeless'. Domestic violence is an exhausting load to carry.
So what do you do? How can you help them?
I wish there was a broad sweeping statement... "Just do this...", but there isn't. Each woman will be up against a unique set of circumstances with access to varying levels of personal and material resources.
Regardless, there are definitely some things you can do to support her, the first and most powerful of which is to believe her. Having someone believe you and hold space for you to share your story is a huge relief.
Second only to being believed and validated is having someone allow you to be the expert in your own life. Understand that the woman knows her own situation best so be curious but respectful as you offer support. Ask her how you can help, never assume or play the lead role. She needs support, not another burden (albeit with good intentions).
Playing a passive support role is always best, until more is asked of you.
Erica is a Women's Health Counsellor in private practice in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. You can read more about her work at www.shecounselling.com.au. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, on 0412 707 242 or via socials @shecounselling.
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