October was domestic violence awareness month. Those with experience in family law matters in Louisiana surely were aware of that fact. If you participated in one of the many activities held to try to shed light on this particular issue, kudos.
All too often, the abuse that spouses or intimate partners commit against purported loved ones; the mistreatment that children suffer at the hands of those who are supposed to be watching out for them; goes unnoticed. And where that happens, the evil can flourish.
There are legal means that individuals can pursue to obtain protection against physical and emotional harm. But it requires first admitting that a problem exists and then mustering the courage to take action.
Alternatively, if someone seeks to leverage the legal system to obtain an unwarranted protection order, mounting a defense may be needed. In either event, working with experienced legal counsel is always recommended.
As we enter this traditional season of peace it might beneficial to review what we all might be able to do to be more proactive in trying to speak truth to power for longer-term prevention of domestic violence. What follows are suggestions from Louisiana’s Iris Domestic Violence Center.
If abuse is known about or even just suspected:
- Inquire about it, gently. Active listening involves showing compassionate concern and then maintaining a silent space in which sharing can occur.
- Withhold judgment. Abuse victims often feel they are responsible. They are not. But they may fear being judged as such. Your greatest comfort may be in being a compassionate, silent witness.
- Reassure. Nothing excuses physical violence in loving relationships. Domestic violence isn’t deserved punishment. It is a crime.
- Guide. Any decision by the abused to take further action must be their own. You can serve not by simply naming possible resources and services, but by providing actionable information such as addresses and phone numbers.
Source: Iris Domestic Violence Center, “Is Someone You Know Being Abused?” accessed Nov. 10, 2015