How do you protect a friend from abuse?

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Virginia residents who have a friend who is a victim of domestic violence may wonder what they can do to help. According to the Virginia Department Of Social Services, one of the first things a friend can do is listen to the victim. One should not pressure the victim to talk, but rather let her open up on her own. It is always best not to blame the victim for the problem but rather to support her with the decisions that she makes.

A friend of the victim can help by researching information about domestic violence. Concerned friends can call up the Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault hotline at 1.800.838.8238. They can also visit the Domestic Violence website www.vadv.org. A friend can also bring an abuse victim to one or more of the programs conducted to support victims of domestic violence in Virginia. One should remember that the greatest danger an abuse victim faces can arise when she tries to leave an abusive relationship, because of the potential for physical violence.

A friend should privately share with a potential victim all the information that they have gathered about how to make a domestic violence complaint. One should encourage the victim to seek the help of advocates. At every stage, one should assure the victim that the information she provides will be kept confidential.

Many victims of domestic violence can benefit from the help of the clergy or a marriage counselor. However, if these individuals are not helpful, a friend should encourage the victim to look for help somewhere else. And a friend should never let the victim believe the abuse was her fault, but focus instead on the victim's strengths. A victim should always look first for help where she lives because there are probably programs in her area that can help her.

Source: DSS.Virginia.gov, "Help a Friend or Family Member in Trouble," Accessed on Feb.28, 2015

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