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Her Blood Is On His Hands

Our family recently experienced the loss of a loved one due to domestic violence. My young female relative was one of the thousands of victims in the United States who experience such a horrid crime. She cannot give her testimony or speak to her children or get support, she is now dead. What is also eye-opening is that the killer, her lover, went on Facebook and tried to justify the murder he committed by saying things like "I told her I had been in prison. I told her I was violent, I told her I get angry". I am glad he shared with her who he was. However, I am saddened she was not able to get out of the relationship before it was too late. Unfortunately, her blood is on his hands. The blood of a beautiful young lady with three children is on his hand. The blood of a beautiful young lady who allowed herself to be controlled, isolated, and beaten by him is on his hands. He is so mentally deranged that he is unable to understand the damages he had done to her and her family. He is in prison. He can wash the blood off of his hands, however, he cannot bring her back to life. He can wash her blood off his hands, but he cannot take back all the blood he stole from her.

The one thing I would encourage all of us to take a look at is that you have the power to keep out of your life violent people. You have the power to fall in love. You can choose to be intimate with a person or you can choose to NOT let a person in your personal space. Too, often many of us have done as I did, allowing a violent person into their personal space. Allowed themselves to be bullied, beaten, mistreated, controlled, and manipulated.

See the video below with Dr. Phil about women being abused by an intimate partner.

What could we do to help women who are in these violent situations? Below is a newsletter with tips on how to help.

Don't try and be a therapist, she says. Don't ask questions or pry for details, just be a friend and listen. The most powerful statement you can make is: I believe you.

Stay in touch

A text, phone call, or "Hey, would you like to go for a walk?" can be a simple but very powerful way to help. One of the main aspects of domestic violence is isolation, and so counteracting this is important.

Fontes says abusive relationships can shred a person's self-esteem. When someone constantly hears 'You're worthless, you can't do anything right,' having an affirming friend or loved one can be an antidote. She suggests, "'One thing I've always liked about you...' or 'I admire how you do X' or 'I love it when we do Y together.'"

Let the person keep their power

Supporting a friend in an abusive relationship can sometimes feel frustrating. They might make excuses for their partner or change their mind about what they want to do.

Rich Ham at the National Domestic Violence Hotline advises against making plans for your friend or trying to take over the situation, however much you want to help. "It's very important that we recognize that [abuse is] about power and control," Ham says. Trying to "save" your friend actually takes more power and control away from them, because you aren't letting them decide what to do. "That can be one of our biggest mistakes as helpers," he says.

Let them set the pace.

Ask: What do you need?

There are a lot of barriers to leaving a violent relationship: Threats. Worries about money. There may be children or pets involved. So ask your friend or loved one: What do you need?

Fontes says your friend can also work with a domestic violence advocate to create a safety plan, even if they don't plan to leave. It can help them think about answers to important questions: Do you have a code word to alert a friend you're in trouble? If you feel unsafe, where can you go? Do you have important phone numbers memorized?

Fontes stresses that while there are some safety plans available online, your friend should work on one with a domestic violence advocate. Don't mistake support groups for professional help, she advises.

Local domestic violence shelters can be a source of help for housing, childcare, food, employment, counseling, and legal aid, Ham says.

And he says when asking, "What do you need?" don't forget to include self-care, for your friend and yourself.

Don't underestimate the power of friendship

Perhaps the most important takeaway is the power of friendship. Lisa Fontes compares the feeling of an abusive situation to being carried away by a huge wave, with no control. She says a friend can be a lifeline.

"When a friend extends their hand and holds them and tries to pull them in, that may be the only safety that they have," says Fontes. "If a friend has your back, that is just worth the world."

The podcast version of this episode was produced by Clare Marie Schneider.

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