You’ve probably heard horror stories about getting involved with domestic violence. Trying to break up a disturbance can backfire, but there are ways to intervene and still stay safe. You should consider any violent situation carefully and intervene only if the following conditions are met:
- There are plenty of other people nearby
- You don’t see any sign of a weapon
- You don’t think that the abuser could harm you
Steps for Intervening in Domestic Violence
Standing up to domestic bullies is important. However, this can prove too difficult of a task for a victim who suffered long-term abuse. When you suspect that a friend, neighbor, or family member is abused, it can be more difficult to act. Emotional involvement might cloud your judgment. If you feel too close to the case, reach out to someone you trust and ask for their help.
Learn more about how to protect victims from their abusers and how to intervene safely in a domestic violence case:
1. Call the Police
If you have reason to believe that there is ongoing domestic violence in a household, you should contact the police. The operator might ask you a series of questions to get a better idea of the situation. Try to answer these the best that you can and offer detailed information. Having reliable data will help them plan an appropriate response.
2. Enlist Help
Getting someone to help you intervene is a good strategy. If you are in public, you might enlist aid from a security guard, store employee, or another customer. The abuser might be too absorbed in their actions to notice any onlookers. Still, more often than not, knowing that someone is watching and ready to intervene can often interrupt the violence, at least temporarily.
Legal help should also be more than welcome. Hiring a domestic violence attorney on behalf of the victim can help them get out of the abusive situation and also receive justice for their suffering. A lawyer can guide them through every step and offer legal protection against their abuser.
3. Create a Disturbance
Especially when encountering domestic violence in public, you can try making loud noises or creating a disturbance that distracts the abuser. You can try to engage them directly, if it is at all possible. Ask the abuser/victim a question or make a joke. You can often de-escalate the situation by striking up a normal conversation.
However, you could also distract them without directly targeting them. For example, you could do something as crazy as screaming because you thought a bee was in your hair. An unexpected occurrence like this will surely catch their attention.
4. Make Noise
If you encounter domestic violence in a secluded area, making noise is a good way to let the couple know that someone is approaching. Even something as subtle as a cough could do the trick. Alerting them of your presence is often enough to halt the violence.
5. Offer a Hand in Friendship
There are ways you can help a victim even if you are not present when the abuse occurred. If you know someone in this situation, try to talk to them and offer some encouraging words. If you see that they are too uncomfortable with the topic, direct the conversation to everyday issues. After you built a report, they might feel more at ease to open up.
Domestic Violence as a Social Issue
Anyone can be or become a victim, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or income level. Domestic violence is a social and not a private issue between adults. It involves community safety and public health.
Knowing how to report domestic violence is a major step forward in fighting it. There are many ways to fight domestic violence from the comfort and safety of your home. These include:
- Reporting suspected violence to social-service and community organizations dedicated to fighting violence.
- Call the police whenever you suspect active violence is taking place.
- Volunteer with organizations like Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence
- Attend a training class at a local domestic violence shelter.
Contact an Attorney
If you know someone who suffers from domestic violence try to get them in touch with an attorney. Knowing that they do have the law on their side might offer them a sense of security and comfort. It might even empower them to take action and break free from the vicious circle of abuse. Regardless of whether you’re a man or woman, violence is wrong, and family law attorneys know how to get and keep you safe.