How You Can Help
You can make a difference!
Domestic and sexual violence is especially hard to talk about since no one expects to be hurt by someone they love or who loves them.
Alone, victims and the people who care about them can feel helpless, scared, and angry.
How to help a friend or family member who is being abused:
Reaching out to a friend, relative or co-worker you suspect is in abusive relationship can be difficult and emotionally challenging. The following are tips on how to start the conversation. If you want further information or advice, it may help to talk to an advocate. You can reach a YWCA advocate 24 hours a day by calling 668-2299, and an advocate will return your call within 10 minutes. Or, if it's during the day, Monday through Friday, you can simply call the office at 625-5785.
- Ask direct questions about the situation, gently. Give your friend time to talk. Ask again a few days later. Don’t rush into providing a solution.
- Listen without judging. Your friend, relative or co-worker may believe the abuser’s negative messages. S/he may feel ashamed, inadequate, and afraid of being judged by you.
- Let the person you approach know you care about him/her and that it’s not her/his fault.
- Explain that there’s never an excuse for physical violence in a relationship – not alcohol or drugs, not financial pressure, not depression, not jealousy…..not anything.
- If the person remains in the relationship, continue to be a friend while firmly expressing your concern for her/his safety. Remember that, for many victims, leaving an abusive relationship can take time and may not happen right away.
- Explain that domestic violence is a crime – as much of a crime as robbery or rape – and that victims can seek protection from the police or courts.
- Emphasize that when your friend is ready, she can make a choice to leave the relationship, and that help is available. Also emphasize that domestic violence tends to get worse and becomes more frequent with time, and that it does not go away on its own.
- If your friend has a restraining order, let her know that any contact by the abuser is breaking the law. If she chooses, she can ask the police to arrest the abuser for making contact, especially if there is evidence. Encourage your friend to save letters or e-mail sent from the abuser, or messages left on an answering machine or voice mail, along with the date the contact was made.
- Many battered immigrant victims who have legal immigration status do not know that their batterers cannot take that status away. You should know that if immigrant victims are U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, or have a valid visa, they cannot be deported unless they have entered the U.S. on fraudulent documents, violated conditions of their visa, or have been convicted of certain crimes.
Phrases you can use to help:
- I’m afraid for you.
- Tell your friend that you care and are concerned for her.
- I’m afraid for your children.
- Children can be harmed by being exposed to battering and at risk of being physically abused also.
- It will only get worse.
- Statistics show that domestic violence only gets worse and will occur more often over time.
- I’m here for you.
- Let your friend know you will be there when she or he needs you.
- You don’t deserve to be abused.
- The abuse is not your friend’s fault.
- It's not your fault, I believe you.
- Giving reassuring, non-judgmental messages will make your friend feel empowered and supported.
*Phrases were adapted from the AVON Foundation Speak Out Against Domestic Violence Resource Guide. The phrases were recommended by National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence.
Together, we can make a difference and end domestic and sexual violence in our communities.
Here's how else you can help:
Did you know that there are 8,760 hours in a year? The YWCA 24-hour crisis line operates 365 days per year providing immediate support and advocacy for victims just a phone call away. We would not be able to provide this service without our dedicated volunteers who answer calls, provide hospital accompaniment, and conduct shelter screenings.
In addition to providing a much needed service, volunteers report that volunteering makes them feel empowered by helping victims/survivors. Some volunteers come to the YWCA Crisis Line because they or someone they care about had a personal experience with domestic or sexual violence. Others have witnessed the effects second hand and want the violence to end.
Our volunteers are the backbone of YWCA Crisis Service.
Volunteering is a service you can provide from home.
For more information on volunteering, please contact the YWCA at 625-5785 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Be at least 18 years of age.
- Have access to a phone and a quiet place to receive and make calls.
- Have a valid driver's license and car insurance.
- Attend a mandatory 30 hour training (usually over the course of three weekends)
After volunteers have been working on the crisis line, they may decide to get additional training to provide the following advocacy:
- Shelter advocate
- Police and court accompaniment
- Education and outreach presentations
- Support group facilitators
- Office support
- Transportation volunteer
Volunteers are always supported during their shifts by a staff advocate who is available by pager. During initial hospital calls and shelter screenings, staff advocates are available to assist new advocates.
Volunteers are women and men, students and professionals, retirees and people looking to change careers. Many of the full time staff advocates began their careers as volunteers on the crisis line.
Our Wish List
Some people aren't able to volunteer two shifts per month, but would rather provide material support. Some of the items needed to provide quality services for victims are listed below:
- Diapers in all sizes
- Wipes, powder, & other infant and child care items
- Paper products - tissues, single ply toilet paper, paper towels, disposable plates/cups
- Household cleaning products i.e. dish soap, sponges etc.
- Trash bags
- New Toiletries
- New twin sheets, pillow cases, blankets, comforters, pillows, mattress covers, pillow covers
- New towels, facecloths
- Art supplies for support groups and events
- Phone calling cards (can't be traced like cell phones can)
- Gift cards - grocery stores, gas, department stores, home improvement stores
- Taxi vouchers
- Bus passes
- Donations of services (copying, printing, advertising)
- Donation of pet boarding for shelter clients with pets
- Cash donations
- Non-perishable food items
Today, it costs $65 to provide comprehensive services (shelter, crisis counseling, and materials goods assistance) to one victim/family for one hour.
TAKE ACTION: Make Changes to Stop Domestic and Sexual Violence
Often people feel that if they can't volunteer or make a donation, that they can't be part of the solution. But you can!
Here are some ways that community members can make change:
- If you hear an assault next door, call 911 for help.
- If you see someone in trouble on the street, offer help or get help if you need it.
- Believe and support a friend who needs help and refer them to the YWCA Crisis Service.
- Challenge traditional male and female roles.
- Watch out for children at home and in the community. Intervene if you see a child being mistreated and make an anonymous report to DCYF.
- Refrain from telling or laughing at sexist, racist, or violent jokes.
- Believe and teach that No means No.
- Walk the walk: solve conflicts without violence.
- Read the paper and watch the news to see how your community responds to violence.
- Let your elected officials and community leaders how you want violence handled.
- Attend an awareness event like Take Back the Night, Week Without Violence, or Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
It takes a community to end domestic and sexual violence, BECOME A MEMBER OF THE YWCA and be part of the process.