Tools for Friends & Family
Yes, it is your business!
What Can You Say to a Victim?
- I’m afraid for your safety.
- I’m afraid for the safety of your children.
- It will only get worse.
- We’re here for you when you are ready or when you are able to leave.
- You deserve better than this.
- Let’s figure out a safety plan for you.
Adapted from: Sarah Buel, Esq., in “Courts and Communities: Confronting Violence in the Family,” Conference Highlights, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, 1994.
What About The Abuser?
Maybe he/she is your friend, your cousin, co-worker, gym partner or fishing buddy. You’ve noticed that your friend interrupts his or her partner, criticizes their family, yells at them or scares them. You hope that when they’re alone, it isn’t worse.
The way your friend or family member treats his or her partner makes you uncomfortable, but you don’t want to make your friend or family member mad or lose his or her friendship. You surely don’t want to see him or her wreck his or her relationship or have to call the police. What can you do?
Say something. If you don’t, your silence is the same as saying abuse is ok. Your friend or family member could hurt someone, or end up in jail. Because you care, you need to do something… before it is too late.
What Can You Say or Do?
- Draw attention to it.
“Do you see the effect your bad words have on her?”
“When you do that, it makes him feel bad.”
“Did you mean to be so rough? That’s not cool.”
- Tell him what you think.
“I’m really worried about your children’s safety.”
“I’m surprised to see you act that way. You’re better than that.”
“I care about you, but I won’t tolerate it if you abuse her.”
“This makes me really uncomfortable. It’s not right.”
- Express ideas about loving behavior.
“Loving her doesn’t mean abusing her.”
“Good husbands and partners don’t say or do those kinds of things.”
- Offer suggestions or solutions.
“People should never hit or threaten the people they love.”
“Kids learn from their parents. Is this how you want your son to treat women?”
“How would you feel if your daughter chose someone who acted like this?”
“Call me if you feel like you’re losing control.”
“Maybe you should try counseling.”
“You should talk to your faith leader and see what he/she suggests.”
- If his behavior is criminal, tell him so.
“Domestic violence is a crime. You could be arrested for this.”
“You could end up in jail if you don’t find a way to deal with your problems. Then what would happen to you and your family?”
Your Friend or Family Member May Not Like It
Your friend may not listen. He or she may get enraged, deny it, ignore you or make excuses. He or she may want to talk about what happens. They may even laugh it off or make fun of you. Still, you need to say something. Your silence is the same as saying you approve.
Or They May Take You Seriously and Decide to Change
Domestic violence is a learned behavior. Abusers learn that it’s okay to men learn to put down and abuse women from other men, they can also learn from other men how to respect women. When you decide that violence against women is unacceptable and choose to lead, other men will begin to think twice before they strike with their words or fists.
It isn’t easy or comfortable, but men must step up to the plate because next time, it could be your sister, mother, friend or co-worker. It’s the right thing to do.
Listen. Teach. Lead. Help Stop Domestic Violence
If you are concerned about the safety of your friend’s partner or spouse, or to learn about services in your area, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224 or contact The Center at (530) 626-1131 or (916) 939-6616.