You are not the expert.
When someone opens up to you, it’s important to make it about them. Listening means creating space for another person to share their experience without judgement. No one understands the realities of domestic violence better than the people being impacted by it right now.
to the expert
No one understands the realities of domestic violence better than the people being impacted by it right now.
Acknowledge the violence
When someone is talking to you about their experiences of abuse, it’s important to acknowlege the violence and abuse and the impact that it is having on them.
Many people experiencing violence receive messages suggesting it’s their fault their partner is abusive to them. When we listen, we’re showing that person we don’t blame them for what is happening.
Honor their experience
As listeners it’s important to acknowledge and honour all that a person has done to resist violence, to try and protect themselves and/or their children and to stand up for their own dignity and integrity.
Honor their choice
People tend to resist violence, which sometimes means staying in an unhealthy relationship. Leaving doesn’t always make the violence stop, so staying is a choice too.
Taylor and Dave
Taylor and I were out for our regular Saturday morning stroll when they told me their partner Dave threatened to harm their dog. I asked if everything was ok. That’s when Taylor told me things had been escalating for a while and that they were afraid to leave Dave in fear of what he might do.
Greg and Miranda
One Sunday Miranda came to church alone. She seemed distracted and off. After the service I asked if everything was ok. We have been friends for a long time and started going to the same church in our teens. She met her husband Greg one Sunday and they ended up getting married there a few years later. Greg was highly respected within the community because he was always the first one to volunteer for a church event and made newcomers feel welcome. She told me she felt guilty about having mixed feelings about Greg. Things hadn’t been going so well at home, but she was ashamed to talk about it with the pastor and even her parents.
Brett and the kids
I was cutting my client Brett’s hair when they told me they were afraid to leave their partner because he was the sole financial provider in their family. They have a couple of kids and Brett stayed home to raise them. Brett didn’t want to ask their parents for help because they felt too embarrassed. Their mother never liked their partner and often warned this would happen.