Be an Engaged Bystander

If you believe that a friend, family member or co-worker is in an unhealthy relationship, it’s important to reach out to that individual. It may be a difficult and uncomfortable conversation to have, but it is one that could ultimately save someone’s life.

First, start by finding a closed and private location to have the conversation. Approach the situation with genuine care and concern and sensitivity. Ask open questions – this lets the other person know that you are a safe person to open up or to share what’s going on. Examples include: “I’ve noticed … and I am concerned about you. If there anything I can do to help?” “I’ve noticed … and I’m worried about you. Are you ok?”

If they chooses to disclose they are in an abusive situation, here are some guidelines to follow in order to support the disclosure:
1. Listen. Listening is the first step; be mindful that this might be the first time this person has opened up about the abuse. Remain non-judgemental and understand that they may be reluctant to disclose everything that’s going on in the first conversation.
2. Be Supportive. Validate their strength for coming forward and let them know that no one deserves to be abused, and this is not their fault. Understand and express that this is a difficult situation and that they are not alone in this, you will be there to support them.
3. Provide Information. Learn about some of the resources available in Calgary to support individuals dealing with abuse and offer these support services.
4. Respect Their Decisions. If someone chooses to open up to you, be mindful that this conversation took a lot of courage for them to have, so it is important that you respect where they are in their journey and the decisions they make. They may decide to go back to the relationship and it’s important not to criticize them for this choice or make them feel guilty. Ensure if they do return to the relationship that they have the proper resources, such as community supports so they can be safe.
Domestic violence is a crime and if you are ever concerned about someones safety, contact the police.


Article by: Nicole

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