Abuse can occur in different forms. It could be emotional, physical abuse or sexual, and it is often perpetrated by someone close to you or someone you know and trust.
Learning that a loved one is in an abusive relationship or has been sexually assaulted can be extremely emotional – you may feel anger, confusion, and guilt for not doing enough to protect them, not spotting the signs early enough, or knowing what to do to help them heal.
For the abused, on the other hand, the experience can be very traumatic. It is not unusual for the abused person to feel helpless about their situation or to think they are the cause.
First, it is imperative to understand that no one deserves to be abused and that it is not your fault.
Keep in mind that there are a couple of things you can do to regain control, build your self-confidence, and protect yourself even if you think there is nothing you can do right now.
Below are seven things you can do if you or a loved one has suffered abuse.
Accept That the Abuse Happened
People who are abused might try to pretend it never happened. That is understandable when you consider that most abuses are from people you know and trust.
It is often hard to accept you have been abused. As a result, you may try to shut out the memory and forget about it.
Unfortunately, doing this only reinforces the vicious cycle and robs you the opportunity to begin healing. Acceptance is the basis on which real healing can begin.
By coming to terms that the abuse happened and that it is not OK, start taking preventative steps to avoid reoccurrence or remove yourself from such situations.
Talk to Someone You Trust
Opening about an abusive experience is not the easiest of things to do. It requires a ton of courage to let someone else in on your darkest, nightmarish experience.
But it is something you need to do to heal, gain justice, and move forward with your life. However, you must talk to someone you trust as this is a great way to feel supported and heard in a world where you may feel all alone.
And in case you do not have any trusted person to talk to, consider contacting a counselling service.
Listen When a Loved One Reaches Out
If a loved one reaches out to you or shows signs that they are ready to talk about an abusive experience, you want to do the following:
- Avoid the urge to interrupt them. Actively listen, stay calm and show empathy.
- Let them know you believe them and that they have been brave to keep going even after the abuse.
- Help them build their confidence and reassure them that they can make their own decisions even when you may disagree with them.
- Suggest they seek assistance. Point them to the right resources they need and where possible help them see how they can protect themselves.
Seek Advice from an Abuse Compensation Lawyer
While seeking compensation cannot undo the damages you or your loved one may have suffered because of being abused, it can certainly help you to feel that justice has been served.
And of course, the money you are awarded can go a long way in helping you get started in life again, pay medical bills, and offset any debts accrued due to the impact of the harrowing experience.
Talking to an experienced abuse compensation lawyer is the first step in achieving some financial compensation. These professionals can help you achieve financial compensation, and receive an apology from the institution or person who has abused you.
Be sure to seek advice from legal professionals with a history of handling similar cases like yours.
Help Increase Their Sense of Safety
One recurring aftermath of ending abusive relationships or after a sexual assault is the victim’s shattered sense of safety.
It is not unusual for survivors of abuse to feel unsafe. Or that the event will happen again. To ensure they feel safe, you can provide them with a place to stay for a while or point them to safe accommodation services.
An excellent place to start is to check in with the Women’s Domestic Violence Crisis Service to see available safe accommodations.
Help them pack an escape bag and hide it in a safe place for when they may need to escape.
Be certain documents like passport, driver’s license, some money, clothes, and any other important items they may need are packed.