How Can I Help Others?
In Texas, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men have been sexually assaulted at some point their lifetime. 1 In 2014 alone, 23,311 victims of family violence sought shelter and safety from violence at a family violence program like FOW. Many others sought outreach services such as advocacy and counseling: 61,119 Texans.2 For the reported victims who seek services, there are countless others who have not yet made that step. If you know someone experiencing domestic violence or who has been sexually assault, there are some important things you can do to help a survivor:
Be Supportive and Listen.
Listening can be one of the most important ways you help support a survivor. Keep in mind that not all survivors will want to talk about their experiences right away. Show them that you will be ready whenever they are ready to talk. Try to resist the urge to ask questions as this can lead them to blame themselves for what happened. Remember it is never the victim’s fault.
Many survivors do not come forward for fear that they will not be believed. If someone begins to open up with you about the violence they’ve experienced or are experiencing, it means they trust you. Simply saying “I believe you” can help a survivor begin their healing.
Be Non-Judgmental and Respect Their Choices.
The crimes of domestic violence and sexual assault are about power and control. Following these assault victims’ feelings of power and control can be taken away. Respecting their choices helps them get those feelings back. Respect their decisions. Do not criticize their decisions or try to guilt them. Your support of their decisions can help empower them, even if you may not agree with them.
Help Them Develop a Safety Plan.
A Safety Plan is a vital tool for victims whether they’re choosing to stay, preparing to leave, or have already left. Advocates at FOW, Inc. can help develop an individualized safety plan.
Help Them Get Informed.
Connect them with a local domestic violence or rape crisis center. Call us at 956-544-7412 to speak to a trained Victim Advocate or to get referrals to a program near you. You can offer to go with them as they seek services.
Take Care of Yourself.
You are an important support system for your loved one. Stepping in to advocate and support a family member or friend can be difficult. Take care of yourself and your feelings. All the services provided by FOW, Inc. are also available to you.