Sorry to say, but there will probably be a time during your 4 years of college that you meet someone who is dealing with domestic abuse, and it can often be very difficult trying to figure out a way to help without “sticking your nose in their business.”
But before I get on with this article, it should be known that domestic violence is something that hits rather home for me. During my four years of college, I was with a man named…should I use his real name? Ah, screw it. His name was Jason. He was super sweet and charming at first (as they all are), and then things quickly turned violent and twisted.
Now I’d like to say that I ended up saying enough was enough, put my foot down and moved out, never to return, but the truth is that after he’d held me hostage for three days, not letting me leave the house or make any contact with the outside world, my friends showed up while he was at work with a gaggle of people I’d never met and about four pickup trucks. In one hour they moved everything I owned to a new location, including me, in a sloppy incoherent bundle of tears. For the first few months, they paid my rent, my bills, gave me rides back and forth to work, and made sure I didn’t call him when I was lonely (which was all the time). I’m now in an amazingrelationship with someone else, but I can’t help but think of what would have happened had my friends not intervened when they did. In all honesty, I think he would’ve ended up killing me.
1.) Be supportive and listen. A common trend with abusers is that they try to convince the victim that they are all alone. The point is create this separate reality where the victim becomes dependent on the abuser, because, as the abuser put it, “Where would you go? You have no friends or family who could take you in. You’re a burden on me and I can barely handle you.” If you suspect a friend is going through a situation like this, the best thing you can do is let them know that they do have places to go and they do have other options. Helping them talk about what they would do if they ever did decide to leave can help them develop a plan for actually doing so.I realize that showing up to someone’s house and forcefully moving them out is probably not an option; so instead, here are some other ways you can help if you suspect someone is dealing with domestic violence.
2.) Consistently try to make contact. Another form of abuse is often isolation. Jason would break my phone and take my keys, making it impossible for me to leave or get ahold of anyone. If you can’t get ahold of your friend then there’s nothing wrong with sending a cop anonymously over to the house (or sending your RA or campus police to the dorm room next to you) to check on them. If everything is fine than the cop just leaves: no report, no arrest; nothing. If something isn’t wrong though, there’s a cop there just in case.
3.) Intervene. And speaking of sending a cop to the house, just do it. I can’t count the number of times I was fearful for my life when one of the neighbors would come by and ask if they should call the cops. Of course we’re going to say no! What is the victim going to do, say “yes” right in front of her abuser? There’s no way! If you hear screaming and fighting and suspect it’s getting overly heated, call the cops!
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