How to support someone who’s being abused

Knowing that someone you care about is being abused can leave you feeling helpless, especially if they are afraid to get help. Luckily, there are few things you can do to support and help your loved ones get out of their abusive situation. Here’s how you can lend a helping hand.

Let them know that you care

Be honest and let them know that you are concerned about them. Make sure that they know that you are doing this because you are worried about them and their safety. If you have noticed some warning signs, tell them about it. This might help them confide in you and see you as their support structure.

Avoid telling them what to do

When your loved one opens up to you, avoid telling them what to do. They will let you know how they would like to be helped, especially if they are ready to get out of the situation.

The best you can do is offer options that they can take advantage of. Avoid giving them ultimatums or coming across as insensitive. Keep in mind that abuse victims need to feel like they are in control because abusers usually try to take power away from them, so try not to give them advice that makes them feel disempowered.

Don’t be judgmental

Part of being supportive is not passing judgment or making your loved one feel like something is wrong with them. The last thing they need is to relive their trauma by having to explain themselves and justify the abuse. It’s never the abuse victim’s fault, and it’s important for friends and family to offer a safe space without blaming them for the abuse.

Help them get professional assistance

Talk to your loved one about the help that’s available to them, even if they are afraid to leave. Remember to be sensitive when bringing up their options and let them know that you will be there for them. If they are ready to get help, you can assist them by contacting the following helplines:

#NoExcuse – You or your loved one can send the word ‘Brave” on WhatsApp to the number 0800 150 150 for assistance from this organisation. Make sure you have permission to do this on their behalf – you don’t want this to feel like an ambush.

Thuthuzela Care Centres – This organization supports victims of rape. You or your loved one can contact them by calling 021 447 9762 or sending a WhatsApp message to 083 222 5164.

GBV command centre – This helpline offers support to victims of gender-based violence. You can contact them for assistance by calling 0800 428 428 (toll-free) or by dialing *120*7867# for a call back.

POWA – People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) is an organization that offers help and free counselling to women experiencing violence and abuse. You can contact them on 011 642 4345/6.

The Tears Foundation – Tears offers 24/7 support to victims of violence and abuse all over the country. All you have to do is dial *134*7355# for help.

It’s your legal responsibility to report abuse when you witness someone being abused, but it’s important to make sure that there are safety measure put in place for the victim so that you don’t make the situation more dangerous for them. Take a look at this safety plan for help with assisting someone who needs to get out of an abusive situation.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Messagea Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).