How to Help a Victim of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence refers to a pattern of violent and coercive behavior exercised by one adult over another in an intimate relationship. It is not marital conflict, mutual abuse, a lovers' quarrel, or a private family matter. It may consist of repeated, severe beatings or more subtle forms of abuse, including threats and control.
Four basic types of domestic violence:
- Physical assault: Includes, shoving, pushing, restraining, hitting or kicking. Physical assaults may occur frequently or infrequently, but in many cases they tend to escalate in severity and frequency over time.
- Sexual assault: Any time one partner forces sexual acts that are unwanted or declined by the other partner.
- Psychological assault: Includes isolation from family and friends, forced financial dependence, verbal and emotional abuse, threats, intimidation and control over where the partner can go and what she can do.
- Attacks against property and pets: Destruction of property that may include household objects or treasured items belonging to the victim, hitting the walls, or abusing or killing beloved pets. (Information retrieved from the FaithTrust Institute.)
Domestic violence may include not only the intimate partner relationships of spousal, live-in partners and dating relationships but also familial, elder and child abuse may be present in a violent home. (See the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.)
Ways to help
Share information and resources with victims so that they can make the best decisions for themselves. Walk with a victim—listen, believe, affirm, care for safety, provide education and wait to follow their lead in choosing what to do next. Here are some links to help:
Help for clergy, employers and health care professionals
"Create a safe space where people can ask for help."
—The Rev. Dr. Marie Fortune of FaithTrust Institute
Clergy and people of faith need to respond to domestic violence. For training and resources go to faithtrustinstitute.org.
- Addressing domestic violence at work
- Addressing domestic violence in health care facilities
- Help for public health professionals
- Teen dating violence
Faiths' response to domestic violence
- Jewish: Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Violence or Jewish Women International
- Christian: National Council of Churches
- Muslim: Peaceful Families Project
If someone you love has been killed by domestic violence, include him or her in the "Remember My Name Project" to continue to raise awareness and help future victims.
Information on cosmetic and reconstructive surgery for victims of domestic violence