How to Approach an Abuse Victim

Don't Come into the Situation to be a "Hero"

Victims of domestic violence often have experienced a pattern of abuse extending over a period of years. Learn to expect that some individuals may not want to discuss issues right away. It's important not to be discouraged and, most importantly, it's important to be patient. Be sure not to impose your needs on the victim (i.e. your need for the victim to leave an abusive situation or to go to a shelter, etc.)


Be Patient

As a result of the abuse, many victims learn to be very guarded and protective with their feelings. This could be the result of embarrassment, fear, shame or a desire to protect their reputation. You must accept the fact that they will discuss their feelings only when they are ready. Being a patient, empathetic and approachable listener may assist in creating an environment which will encourage open communication. Leaving an abusive relationship may take several attempts and is not always successful. Your continued support and patience is critical every step of the way.


Don't Expect All Victims of Abuse to be Alike or Have Identical Needs

Domestic violence is experienced in all groups of society. Everyone learns to manage their feelings differently and therefore has different needs. It is important to be respectful of this.


Don't Tell a Victim How They Should or Shouldn't Feel; Respect Their Right to Choice

Individuals are entitled to their own feelings and beliefs without fear of judgement. Ensure you approach the individual in a non-judgemental fashion, as one can never fully understand what someone is going through even after experiencing similar circumstances. Personal history, experience and resources all affect how people experience or see their circumstances. Do not force opinions or beliefs upon them.