There have been so many opinions flying around about Ray Rice, the NFL, Janay Rice, and Domestic Violence.  Many of us will watch the outcome of the investigations, the additional consequences of what happened in that elevator, and hopefully, have an increased awareness of violence in relationships.

I’m hopeful that the coverage of Ray Rice’s moments, hitting the woman who would later become his wife, has increased awareness, decreased our tolerance, and created conversations.

I almost didn’t watch the video when it was first in my news feed.  I knew it would be bad and I knew that it would leave an image in my head that I didn’t want to see.

Were you thinking the same thing?

I’ve worked with so many women who have had abusive episodes in relationships and I knew watching the video would cause the hair on the back of my neck to rise.   I also knew it was a small price to pay compared to what many women and men in abusive relationships have to deal with daily.

You knew it would leave a mark watching it too  – I’m sure.

So why did we watch it?

Because we know there are women and men, ones we may know personally, who have experienced abuse in their relationships.  Almost as a tribute or with courage – I’m hoping we watched it.  I don’t want to believe we all watched it for curiosity sake.

I want to believe that we watched it as a way to learn how we might throw out a life line and to learn more about what we can do to support and help.

What I’ve found in my conversations about domestic abuse with patients, friends, and others is that many people suspect they know someone like Janay Rice.  You may suspect that you know someone who may need your support because they are being victimized.

So what can you do?

  1. Listen.  If you have a friend or family member you suspect is in a bad, abusive relationship, listen to him or her.  Reinforce that they are valuable, worthy, and significant.
  2. Believe them.  If someone tells you information that even hints at the possibility of abuse, believe them.  Be very careful to not minimize, gloss over, or misunderstand what they may be trying to tell you.  Very often, someone who is being abused has very subtly attempted to tell someone what is happening.  It is almost like they are testing you to see if you can handle it.  It’s not always a blatant admission.  It’s a whisper often overlooked.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask someone if they are in an abusive relationship.  Be compassionate, not judgmental.  Be patient, not hurried.  Be supportive, not accusatory.
  4. Manage your own anger and focus on helping.  Someone being victimized will often defend the abuser.  Seems illogical doesn’t it?  It’s true.  Don’t put someone in a position to defend what happens.  Read here why women and men stay in abusive relationships.
  5. Help them connect to resources that are specifically designed to help.  As a friend, that is the best action you can take to be helpful.  So often we try to be a good friend and keep a secret.  You might just try and “be there” for someone who needs you.  I’m here to tell you – do not take it on yourself.  Domestic abuse is a precursor to violence and you are putting yourself and your friend at risk by trying to be a hero.  Be the person who connects a friend to the resources that know how to really help.  This is best left up to the experts who know how to provide protection physically and legally.
If you are in an abusive relationship, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for 24/7 support, resources and advice for your safety. – See more at: http://fletcherphd.com/how-to-know-if-your-daughter-or-your-sister-is-with-a-man-like-ray-rice/#sthash.GAVcDas1.dpuf
  1. If you are in an abusive relationship, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for 24/7 support, resources and advice for your safety. – See more at: http://fletcherphd.com/how-to-know-if-your-daughter-or-your-sister-is-with-a-man-like-ray-rice/#sthash.GAVcDas1.dpuf

If you are in an abusive relationship, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for 24/7 support, resources and advice for your safety.

Be a part of continuing the conversation, increasing awareness, and supporting the resources.  Something better can definitely come out of this.  Don’t you think?

Until next time,

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