Abuse thrives in isolation and silence. When we use our voices we can prevent abuse, protect survivors and strengthen our communities.
If you have concerns about your relationship…tell someone.
Contact the REACH’s free 24-hour hotline at 800.899.4000 or click here for more information and resources.
Support those who experience abuse
If someone discloses abuse to you, remai
n calm. It’s normal to feel a range of emotions (including guilt, anger, and helplessness) when you realize a loved one is experiencing violence. It is important to focus on the survivor’s experience and feelings, not your own reactions. Give survivors time to talk about what they have been through. Reinforce that you are concerned about their safety, but do not pressure them to do anything before they are ready. Acknowledge that the abuse is not their fault and reassure the person that you believe them. In the meantime, encourage them to keep a record of abusive events and direct them to local domestic violence resources such as REACH for support.
Talk about healthy relationships
The more frequently kids engage in open communication with their parents from an early age, the easier it is for them to ask difficult questions about dating relationships during adolescence. Further, as children learn attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors through verbal and non-verbal interactions, it is important to model mutually respectful relationships.
Continue these conversations as c
hildren become teens. Teens who feel more connected to family and adult mentors are more likely to disclose experiences of dating abuse and less likely to engage in risky coping behaviors (such as substance use, self injury, etc). Be candid and honest, drawing upon personal experience to illustrate healthy/unhealthy dating scenarios. If you suspect your teen is experiencing abuse, it is important to remain nonjudgmental and supportive. Let your teen know you are concerned for their safety and identify specific unhealthy behaviors you have noticed in the relationship. Ultimately, tell your teen that you love them and that they can come to you to talk if and when they want to.
Talk to your peers about healthy relationships. Family, friends and neighbors are often the first to know about domestic violence. Learning about healthy relationships is a lifelong process.
Advocate for change
To end domestic abuse in our communities it is important to provide both individual support for victims and community education about abuse. As we all learn more, the silence, secrecy, and shame that surround abuse are lessened. You can help. Encourage your school PTOs to request dating abuse education in health classes. Ask local businesses and churches to post flyers and display REACH hotline cards. Talk with your friends and neighbors about warning signs of abuse and techniques to speak with survivors. Write to your legislator to support funding for domestic violence services. Volunteer to answer our Hotline or co-facilitate a support group. Organize a vigil in October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month or February for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Speak out. Stand up for survivors in your life.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month begins
October 1st! Our focus this year is to “Inspire Conversation” in various places in our community. If you have questions about how to get involved in preventing and ending domestic violence in our community, contact REACH’s Director of Prevention Programs at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.