5 Things You Should Never Say To A Domestic Violence Victim

5 Things You Should Never Say To A Domestic Violence Victim

And 10 Things You Should Say To A Survivor


Domestic violence affects 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men – we know it is a major problem in our society here in the USA. It is devastating, it is hurting our children and yet so many people are hesitant to talk about it. The common perception has been that what goes on behind closed doors is their business. When it looks messy, many want to help but have no idea what to say and become uncomfortable.

Well meaning friends and family can try to share their uninformed opinions thinking they are helping when in fact these thoughts can be detrimental to survivors of dv. Especially if they are in the thick of it with no idea on how to get out.

I can tell you from personal experience and all of the trauma work I have done, here are 5 things you should NEVER say to a domestic violence victim as it will inadvertently cause more emoational harm to your friend or family member.

5 Things You Should Never Say To A Domestic Violence Victim

  1. Why don’t you just leave? Why do you stay? This is the worst and the one question I am asked the most often. There is immense pain behind this fully loaded question. There is so much conditioning and trauma bonding that goes into domestic violence; leaving an abusive relationship is not as simple as walking away and starting over. There are often children, finances, extended family, housing situations… it is a lot to handle or figure out. To learn more, read7 reasons why domestic violence victims stay.
  2. No Relationship is perfect, everyone has problems. Yes, there is no perfect relationship. That being said, abuse – either physical or emotional – is NEVER a part of a healthy relationship. Abuse is not a couples problem. It is a one-sided hurtful infliction of power and control. I know I was not seeking perfection in my life, but rather looking for respect, dignity and a life free of pain. When someone would say this to me I would look at them in wonder what was wrong with me – this is NOT the thing you should ever say to a domestic violence victim.
  3. How can you let him/her treat you like that? I would never let this happen to me. Very harmful, very very bad. Blaming and stereotyping the victim is so damaging – it can happen to anyone. Until you are in their shoes, you truly have no idea what you would do in that situation.
  4. He/she always seems to nice though, I can’t believe that was/is happening. Most abusers are very charismatic in public, people like them. It is behind closed doors that their true colors emerge. Many victims, myself included, are horribly embarrassed and afraid to speak up. Supporting the abuser to the victim in this way will cause more pain and embarrassment to the victim as it affirms to them that they are the problem.
  5. I never liked him/her anyway, I told you something was off. Ugh, I hate this one (because almost everyone said it to me). It makes us feel like we were too foolish and blind to see the truth. Abuse is very complex and happens slowly over time with a lot of conditioning, it is not easy for us to identify it when we are in it.

Now that we have gone over the things NOT to say, here are 10 things that you should say! But first I want to mention that listening, believing, and validating the abuse is the way to go. If you can do nothing else besides listen and understand, that is a huge help in itself. So if you find yourself in a situation where a victim is opening up to you, listen and here are:

10 Things You Should Say To A Domestic Violence Victim.

  2. There are so many resources to help. Share information with them, this post on domestic violence has hotline numbers and places to seek shelter – no matter where you are.
  3. You deserve to be safe; your children need to be safe and need you.
  4. I’m so sorry this is happening to you.
  5. I’m glad you told me; how can I help you?
  6. Do you have a plan to get out of this situation, how can I help?
  7. The abuse is not your fault, you are not to blame for someone else’s actions.
  8. Did you know that domestic violence is a real crime?
  9. You have the right to protection; you do not need to live this way.
  10. There are people who love you and are concerned for you. Let us help.

I hope this helps to keep the conversation going. Please reach out for help, I am here and there are so many resources out there today. If you are being hurt or you suspect one of your loved ones is being hurt, reach out. Contact me, contact the national domestic violence hotline, talk to a local shelter – whatever you feel comfortable doing. But do not stay isolated.

I’m speaking from experience that isolation leads to nothing good. But more on that later, for now speak up, don’t be afraid – together we can put an end to domestic violence.

Cheers to safety.

Malibu Mama Loves Xx

Author: malibumamaloves

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