Many people reach out for help with domestic abuse, but sometimes they reach out for help to the wrong people, or they reach out to the right people but become discouraged. Don’t give up if the domestic abuse hotline you call or friend you tell about the abuse doesn’t meet your needs. Keep reaching for help and you will find it. When you reach out for help, you show your strength.
Reaching Out For Help Changes Your Mind
You’ll notice that no where on this page do I suggest reaching out for help to your abuser. No where. You’ve reached out to your abuser enough. You know what you get when you go to them for support. Don’t bother telling them you are reaching out to others – chances are, they’ll talk you out of it or swing the hammer down so hard you’ll be afraid to reach out again for years.
It’s okay to keep some things to yourself. Reach out in private; this isn’t about the abuser, it is about your sanity and finding a safe place in your mind from which to plant a seed.
Hotlines Make It Easy to Reach Out for Help
We’ll start with the easiest way to reach out for help: the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Call 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). When you call the hotline, describe your situation. If you’re not sure you’re abused, tell them so.
The trained volunteers can validate your suspicions and help you get a handle on what’s going on in your mind. They’ll talk about what you want to talk about, but a good question to ask is, “What can I do about the abuse?” That question opens a world of possibilities and you can choose a viable solution that could work for you.
The volunteers can also put you in touch with domestic violence organizations and community outreach programs local to you.
Community Outreach Programs
Contact the Department of Social Services or the specific domestic violence agency in your state. Make an appointment to speak with a counselor so you can find out what resources are available to you. Counseling at DSS is free to you, thanks to the taxpayer.
The DSS counselor I spoke to helped me realize that leaving isn’t the only option. Although I did eventually leave, I was able to stay saner while living in that relationship because she educated me about options I hadn’t known existed.
Remember, much of the domestic violence help is secret because victims need the secrecy to stay safe; once you’re identified as a victim, the veil of secrecy lifts.
Reach Out to Your Friends And Family
If your abuser hasn’t completely isolated you, reach out for help from other people in your life. Maybe you’ve spoken to friends and family before about the abuse but made apologies for your abuser or talked them and yourself into believing it’s not that bad.
Don’t do that this time. Tell them how bad it is. Ask if you can go to their home for an hour or so if the situation becomes volatile at your house. Ask to make them key parts of your safety planning if you trust them to keep your secrets.
If you cannot tell your friends or family, sign up for confidential, free mentoring through email support.
Reach Out for Help in Domestic Violence Group Meetings
There will most likely be a domestic violence group meeting you can attend after reaching out to social services or the National Domestic Violence Hotline. There may be other domestic abuse group meetings outside of social services. For example, if you’re in the military or a military dependent, there is help available through the military too (contact the base hospital).
Meeting real, live, speaking breathing people in a group or one-on-one setting is very important. Online friends are great and you can keep them; however, looking at another person in the face, hearing the emotion in their voice, seeing the feelings on their face and connecting with that person is of paramount importance.
You will be amazed at the emotions a group meeting elicits. I was all at once angry that my ex-husband treated me that way, angry at myself for allowing it, comforted by the empathy of the group, validated by the nods and smiles, strengthened by hearing the stories of how they escaped…on and on and on. You can’t get that without visiting with people in person. You may borrow their strength if you have none left. The group gets it.
Find a Great Counselor
Notice I said a “Great” counselor. I had two very different experiences with counselors. One was not helpful to my situation or my self-esteem; the other one empowered me without telling me what to do. Please find a counselor who is well-versed in domestic abuse.
Your number one question when calling around could be, “Do you have experience working with abuse victims?” If the counselor gives a roundabout answer or says “No”, then they are not the counselor for you.
Reach Out for Help Anonymously
When you are not ready to reveal who you are but need to get your story out, you can tell it on this website.
The options to submit either have “answer these questions” forms or requests to email your creative submission. It’s very cathartic to release what you experience with your abuser in a safe place, and could propel you to take further actions, such as telling friends and family.