If you know someone who is hurting, help is available. Feel free to reach out to a shelter if you have questions/concerns prior to speaking to your friend, colleague or family member. Your conversation will remain confidential.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Is your friend/colleague/family member reluctant to talk about why they are sad, anxious or depressed? Have you noticed that they drinking more or taking pills to calm their nerves? Have you seen physical injuries? Do they try to avoid you when you meet on the street? Do they try to cut your time together short? Do they make excuses at the last minute why they cannot visit you, or, have they stopped seeing you completely?
If you have answered “Yes” to one or more of these questions, you have reason to be concerned. The only way to know for sure is to ask the person if they are being or have been abused by their partner – emotionally, physically and/or verbally.
If your friend/colleague/family member has been physically abused, offer to accompany them. Find out if the children have also been hurt, and if so, they should also receive medical attention. Ask them if they want to report the assault to the police or RCMP. Help them find a safe place to stay. The Shelter Safe map can help you to locate a shelter nearby. Talk to them about creating a safety plan.
ENCOURAGE HER TO MAKE HER OWN DECISIONS
A person who has been abused may come to believe that they have no control in their life and no ability to make decisions. To help them feel more confident and regain control, let them know that there are no simple solutions but that change is possible. The first step is to look after their safety.
Point out different options available and help them to evaluate each one. Let the person know that you will stand by them no matter what they decide. Don’t give up on them even though the decisions they make are different from the ones you might make. It does not mean they do not want or need your support.
TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF
Consider talking with a professional who works in the area of violence and abuse about your feelings, fears, frustrations and reactions to the abuse. Counsellors often assist individuals whose friends, colleagues and family members are being abused. You can do this without identifying the person you care about. They can also help you identify safe options you can take with respect to both the perpetrator and the victim.
Sources: Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters and Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan