We’ve spent this month educating you and ourselves about the problem of domestic violence in North Carolina. We’ve taken a look at the cycle of domestic violence, the role that mental health plays, and how North Carolina women are making a difference nation-wide.
The challenge for all of us is to make sure the dialogue continues. Domestic Violence isn’t like Christmas – it doesn’t come once a year and then go away. It happens every day, every hour, in our neighbors’ homes, and maybe even in our own.
I won’t pretend that escaping a toxic, abusive relationship is easy. It’s not. I challenge us all to keep our eyes open to the problem. Too often we turn our backs on suspected cases of abuse, thinking it’s none of our business, or being afraid of the outcome if we try to help. But we need to help. Asking for help can be next to impossible for someone who is emotionally beaten and afraid for her life – and accepting it can be just as difficult.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline has a wealth of resources for people who are in an abusive situation, but it also has tips on how we can help a friend or family member. Here are a few ways you can support someone in an abusive relationship:
- Don’t judge, and support her even if she decides not to leave.
- Offer to help and support her after she leaves the relationship.
- Help her come up with a safety plan.
- Encourage her to ask for professional help.
The Office of Women’s Health with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also offers help on how to get out of an abusive relationship. It includes a “safety packing list” of things you should bring if you decide to leave your abuser. This link also has a list of local agencies who can help if you believe you are the victim of abuse.