Domestic violence is far too common in Missouri. In fact, Missouri has the third-most abuse reports in the United States. In a single year, the state sees more than 45,500 reports of abuse.
October is domestic abuse awareness month. Awareness month is a great opportunity to increase your knowledge of the signs of domestic abuse, so you can be an advocate for individuals who are involved with an abusive partner.
Read on to learn how to stop domestic abuse. Explore topics such as what to do if you suspect domestic abuse.
To be an advocate for others, it’s important to understand the many different types of abuse. Physical abuse is the easiest type to spot.
This is because abusers often leave their mark on a victim. They may leave bruises and cuts on a victim’s body. It is not uncommon to see the abused walking gingerly after abuse.
Many victims try to cover it up to protect their abusers. They may wear a long-sleeve shirt to conceal bruises or put on makeup to hide blemishes on their face.
Some abusers do not lay a hand on their victims. Instead, they use psychological or mental abuse as their weapon of choice. These types of abuse are much harder to identify. Even harder to recognize are the signs of financial, religious or sexual abuse. It is not uncommon for a victim to suffer multiple forms of abuse throughout the duration of their relationship, and even after the relationship has ended.
Many people feel uneasy asking an abuse victim about their cuts and bruises. The best tactic is to casually ask your friend or loved one how they got that bruise, scratch, limp, etc. and pay close attention to their reaction.
Also, look for unexplainable clothing choices. Is the victim wearing a hooded sweatshirt on a warm summer day?
There are professional tips for identifying mental or psychological abuse. For example, you may see a change in personality or behavior from your loved one. They may suddenly become reserved or introverted.
In some cases, your loved one may become distant. They may not have the desire to be social, or their abuser may disallow them to leave the home. This can lead to canceled plans. Also, they may experience feelings of depression or anxiety.
Many victims turn to drugs or alcohol in the wake of abuse or are forced to begin using a substance by their abuser. Observing a new or increased consumption of a substance may indicate that something is wrong.
Once you have confident suspicions of abuse, it is time to help your loved one. If you see something, it is important to say something.
It’s best if the victim seeks help on their own. You should encourage a loved one to seek help but understand they may not want to compromise the abuser. Leaving an abusive relationship is often the most dangerous time for a victim.
There are abuse hotlines that provide resources and guidance for victims and their families. This is the most anonymous and discrete way to handle abuse.
You now have a basic understanding of spotting and reporting abuse.
To help, start off with a conversation with the victim. Without prying or pushing, try to persuade them to seek help.
If you are a victim of domestic abuse and need medical attention please call our shelter services with resources at 636-232-2301 or contact us at Compass Health Network to receive professional help.
You now have a basic understanding of spotting an abusive relationship. The most important thing you can do if you know someone is living with abuse is to offer support without pressure. Assure the victim that you are there to listen and refrain from telling them what they “should, or must” do.
Have a list of resources to provide the victim and give them a safe place to use a telephone to contact services. Advocates at A Safe Place are available 24/7 every day of the year to speak with victims. Advocates can provide connection to resources, safety planning, crisis services, emergency shelter and more. Friends and family of victims are also invited to call the shelter for resources, education and support.
You may offer to store a go bag for the victim if they flee in a hurry. You can help the victim gather important documents such as photo id’s, birth certificates and social security cards and a change of clothes or some spare cash to put in the go bag.
On average a victim will attempt to leave an abuser seven times before they are successful. Through this process they often lose their support network as family and friends grow tired of seeing them return to their abuser. The best thing to do for a victim is have resources ready when they are needed and to remain a constant supportive person who will not judge or lecture the victim’s choices.
If you are a victim of domestic abuse and need medical attention, contact us at Compass Health Network to receive professional help or call our shelter services at 636-232-2301.