How do I seek help if I have been abused?

Some background, some drama

Abuse is a very serious issue. Abusers can be emotionally and physically manipulative, making it difficult to negotiate the complicated web of emotions you may be feeling. Whether you're being abused in a romantic relationship or by a member of your family, you need to form a plan to put a stop to it and to get help.

Do’s and Don’ts

Recognize abuse. If you are the target of physical violence you are being abused. Recognise signs of emotional, financial or sexual abuse. Don’t suffer in silence.

The “How Do I" series tries to list down a few Do’s and don’ts to guide you to seek help if you are a victim of abuse.

Do’s

  • Get help. There are often local resources to help victims of abuse.
  • Document the abuse. Evidence can help you get a restraining order and also ensure that this sort of abuse will never happen again.
  • Do remember that abuse is not your fault. You don't deserve to be abused and you deserve to live a happy life free of violence.
  • Keep a list of safe people with their contact information. Also include numbers for the police and hospitals to seek help.
  • Protect yourself. If you're in danger, get to a safe location.
  • After you seek help work on building up your self-esteem again. You are worthy, you do have rights and your happiness is important.
  • Spend time with loved ones. Your friends and your extended family are there to support you and can provide a security blanket to protect you from the influence of your abuser.

Dont’s

  • Do not excuse or dismiss abusive behaviour. It is very common for abusers to lead victims to believe that the abuse is the victims’ fault.
  • Don’t escalate the situation. If your abuser is being confrontational, try to avoid fighting back. Use your best judgment here, but it may be best to give in temporarily to avoid a more serious violent counterattack.
  • Don't let your partner know that you're planning on leaving and don't wait for the worst to happen before you leave. Abuse is abuse, big or small. Take concrete steps for your safety.
  • Don't entertain apologies, promises, or ultimatums to change. Avoid all contact with your abuser.
  • Don't hesitate to talk to or ask your therapist to help you find a local domestic violence support group and attend as soon as possible to begin the process of healing.

Sources and citations