As our state begins to re-open for business, we all have our own definition of what it means to have “survived” the past 2 months. For some, it meant being both a daycare provider and full-time employee working from home. For others, it meant losing their job and scrambling to make ends meet until their financial stimulus arrived. For most domestic violence victims, “survival” may have meant still being here to read this blog.
I urge the readers to not rely only on our friends, family, and others in our lives to reach out to us for help. Instead, here are some very basic, useful techniques you can employ to ensure that survivors are supported during this period of transition in our communities:
- STAY CONNECTED: Silence from a survivor in your life can be a very dangerous sign. Even though you may not be ready to physically connect again, reach out to them in any way you can. Using technology – Zoom, Skype, phone calls, text, e-mail, etc. – first check to ensure that it is safe and secure from their abuser. Once connected, think about coming up with a game or code word that would signify they or other family members are in danger. For example, maybe talking about the weather, or asking if they tried that new apple pie recipe is code for them telling them you they are in imminent jeopardy. First connect, and then stay connected during this transition period.
- USE EMPOWERING LANGUAGE: As my coach often reminds me, operate out of the “empowerment triangle” as much as possible, in your own life and when talking to others. After connecting to a survivor, empower them by reassuring them they are not alone. Maybe follow that up by asking what you can do to help. After some good active listening, focus the remainder of your conversation on problem-solving their immediate domestic violence problems or issues.
- HELP BRING IN THE REINFORCEMENTS: You likely will not have all the answers for a survivor during your conversation. Fortunately, in our local community we have agencies such as the Women’s Center for Advancement (WCA), Catholic Charities, and Heartland Family Services offering various domestic violence services. The WCA’s 24-hour hotline at 402-345-7273 has not stopped taking calls and engages in assistance such as helping survivors develop a safety plan and file for a protection order. Catholic Charities and Heartland Family Services offer other services, including shelters, for survivors and their immediate family.
You do not have to have “the” solution in order to offer “a” solution to a friend, family member or other in your life who needs a much-needed break from domestic violence. It is not too late to reach out to someone you have not heard from lately, especially if you know they live with domestic violence. Once connected, stay connected, and be just one of their solutions in helping them survive during this time.
Please tune in for part 3 of this blog series to see these practical tips in action.