In order to be an effective bystander, it is very important to understand how to provide support to a survivor of abuse. If given proper support, the survivor will have an easier time coming forward to report the abuse. Not giving proper support can be dangerous because the survivor will not feel comfortable talking about the abuse, and may decide not to come forward.
It is difficult (but important) to understand that the abuse is not the victim’s/survivors fault, it is the abuser’s choice. By blaming the victim/survivor, the abuser is not held properly accountable for their actions.
When providing support to a survivor, keep from comparing yourself to them. Thoughts like, “This would not happen to me because I am not like them”, is not a helpful reaction.
Also avoid victim-blaming statements such as;
- “They provoked them”
- “They both have problems”
- “They were drunk”
These statements place blame on the victim/survivor, when abuse is never their fault. Abuse is a choice made by the abuser. A person cannot make another person be violent towards them, because if a person feels like they may become violent with another person there are other reactions they could choose including; walking away, respectfully explaining why they are frustrated, breaking up, etc.
Violence is never the answer to a problem.
To be an effective bystander we need to provide support for survivors and hold abusers accountable for their actions. When we hold abusers accountable for their actions it shows others that abusive behavior will not be tolerated in our community.
“Remember if you are aware of abusive behavior and do not speak out against it, your silence communicates implicitly that you see nothing unacceptable taking place.” visit Stop Relationship Abuse to learn more.
If you or someone you know needs support from an abusive situation please contact The Shelter, 800-931-7233. If an emergency please call 9-1-1.