Meaningful ways to assist an abused woman

There are many ways you can help if you suspect a woman is being abused.

Educate yourself

Learn all you can about battery and woman abuse and make sure you read the sections on "Myths and Misconceptions about Abuse".

You must understand and believe that the abuse is not her fault - only the abuser is responsible for the abuse.

Listen to her

Let the woman know that you care and are willing to listen. Don't force the issue, but allow her to confide in you at her own pace.

Believe her, take her feelings and fears seriously, and validate her experience of the abuse. Do not make her feel that other considerations, such as the children, are more important than she is.

Let her make her own decisions

Don't try to rescue or save her by trying to get her out of the abusive relationship. She needs to learn to believe in her own ability to find solutions.

Allow her the right and dignity to make her own choices. Trust her to make the right choices for herself.

Encourage her to break

the isolation

Make sure she is no longer cut off from the community. Let her know that she is not alone. Share information you have about places like POWA where she can go for help.

Assure her that the information she gives to any women's organisation will be strictly confidential.

Focus on her strengths

Remember the woman has probably been emotionally abused and continually told that she is a bad wife, mother and person. Focus on her strengths and abilities.

Look at what she has done to survive emotionally and physically. Give her credit for her coping mechanisms. She has survived a lot with much of herself intact and was able to seek help. Support the choices she makes to show her that you believe in her strength.

Tell her she has a right to an abuse-free life. Tell her the battering is not her fault - she does not deserve this. The abuser is responsible for the abuse.

Express concern for her safety and give her information about places like POWA where she can go for help.

Never minimise threats made by the abuser. Remember that most women who are killed by their partners are killed when they try to leave.

Help her with a safety plan

Encourage the woman to make a safety plan to protect herself and her children. Help her think through steps she will take if the abuser becomes violent again.

She can arrange with a friend or neighbour that a certain signal with her phone or lights means she needs help. If she must leave in an emergency, she should try to take the children with her; this will help in later custody decisions.

Follow through on your offers

Don't offer or promise her things unless you're certain you can follow through. She needs people in her life who are consistent and dependable. On the other hand, if are you certain you can make such offers, do so. -