When a family member is the victim of abuse, it is sometimes difficult to determine the best way to help him or her. However, failing to do anything could put your relative's life in jeopardy. If you have a relative who you suspect is being abused, here is what you need to know.
What Are the Signs of Abuse?
Unless you have witnessed the abuse firsthand, it can be difficult to determine whether or not a family member is being abused. However, there are some signs that are common among abuse victims that you can look for. Signs can include:
- Your relative seems to be fearful of his or her partner.
- Your relative begins to isolate himself or herself from family and friends.
- His or her partner controls every aspect of the relationship, including the financial decisions.
- His or her children are fearful of the partner.
- Behavioral changes, such as depression, loss of confidence, and quietness, occur.
Regardless of whether or not you are able to definitively determine that your relative is being abused, there are steps you can take to help him or her.
What Should You Do?
One of the first things you should do is talk to your family member and let him or her know that you are concerned. Instead of outright stating that you are aware of the abuse, cite instances in which you were concerned so that he or she is aware that you do know what is going on with him or her.
Instead of pushing your relative to leave the relationship or placing blame on him or her, you need to be supportive. Blame, shame, or guilt can actually push your relative away and he or she might be more reluctant to open up to you.
You should also help your relative create a safety plan if he or she is not leaving the relationship right now. A safety plan is basically an emergency strategy that your relative can put into place in case he or she is fearful of a partner. For instance, the plan could include heading to a relative's home in another city and using pre-paid phones to communicate to avoid being tracked.
Are There Legal Options?
If your relative is ready to take a stand against his or her abuser, he or she can get a restraining order. The restraining order can provide legal consequences if his or her abuser contacts your relative. The requirements to obtain a restraining order vary from county to county, so work with a domestic violence attorney to ensure it is granted.
A domestic violence attorney can also help your relative with other aspects of separating from an abusive partner, including requesting restraining orders to keep the abuser from any children they share. Consult with an attorney like one from http://www.jdlarsonlaw.com as soon as possible to learn of other ways you can help your relative.