Right Intentions... Wrong Approach
Does this look familiar? We are keen to unpick these types of posts to explore the potential risks involved in sharing this kind of status. The general intentions behind these posts is to help people who may be experiencing Domestic Abuse. At CASWA we encourage the general public to be supportive of women, children and young people who may be experiencing the different types of abuse, HOWEVER…. There are right and wrong ways of doing this to ensure the safety of the victim and yourselves as bystanders.
Why are these posts problematic?
These types of posts tend to be problematic for a number of reasons for example:
- No individual is available 24/7 to be able to help others, even us as domestic abuse specialists are not available 24/7. The Scottish Domestic Abuse and Force Marriage Helpline is available 24/7.
- You may unintentionally put people at risk of more harm as it could antagonize the perpetrator.
- You yourself could be at risk of harm, if the perpetrator sees the post he may become aggressive towards you.
- When a woman makes an attempt to leave the perpetrator this can often be the most dangerous time as the abusive behaviours can become more frequent and/or worsen.
- This is not a bystander response to domestic abuse, although as a bystander you can be of help, this kind of response as stated above is the wrong approach.
So what can you do that is safe for you and the women experiencing the abuse??
What is a helpful response?
Below are some ways to become an informed bystander to domestic abuse:
- Share your local woman’s aid website and social media posts, this helps increase our presence in a subtle way, reminding your social media followers that support is available.
- Familiarise yourself with these services, in order to be able to advocate for Women’s aid, meaning that you could recommend that they speak to us for support.
- Follow the guidance on our web page, “I’m worried about someone I know”, for more information about how to help and support a family member or friend.
- Advocate for equality on your social media, promote equality for all, show zero tolerance towards abuse and educate yourself around domestic abuse in order to be informed and understand what it means.
- Do not judge people who are experiencing domestic abuse around any decisions they may make – they may have no other options or choices.
- Sign post women to our agency if and when they do disclose information to you and only if it is safe to do so and any information you provide would not place them at additional risk. Remember it is completely their choice - they can’t be forced to seek help if they aren’t ready. By sign posting a woman to our agency, where this is safe and appropriate, you are empowering them to make their own decisions and giving them some control back.
- The most appropriate means of seeking help is for women to reach out themselves for support - this ensures that women receive a specialist, domestic-abuse trained response.