Learning to Seek Help for a Loved One


In the United States alone, over 12 million people of both genders are victims of domestic violence. The statistics become even more grim when put into the context of time, where every 9 seconds a woman is assaulted or beaten by both partners and non-partners. With those numbers, it’s likely someone close to you is suffering from this situation, and if you have any inkling of possible abuse, it’s natural to want to find ways to get them the help they need. Here are a few steps that can guide you to seek out help.

Seeing the Signs

The first important thing is to recognize telltale signs that a relative or their partner is:

• Isolating them from other people and solo activities;
• Short-tempered, jealous, possessive, and overly controlling;
• Often answering for the both of them, without taking your loved one’s opinion, feelings, or rights into account;
• Prone to humiliate them in public and blames them for all their problems.

Other signs could be that your loved one is:

• Fearful of their partner’s reactions and criticisms, and/or shares that their partner behaves differently when they are not in public;
• Displaying drastic behavior changes;
• Spending unusually less time outside or with others; and
• Showing bruises or wounds that they may be covering up.

Though these signs are not all encompassing, they can be major red flags that indicate abuse. If you have confirmed that the possible perpetrator already has a history of abuse and violence toward people and animals, this further heightens the risk those signs pose. Of course, if your loved one approaches you and has shown you these things or told you about it themselves, you can move onto what actions you can take.

Getting Professional Help

First, the personal help you can provide is to be there as a form of comfort and to listen. Don’t force your loved one to open up to you or even blame them for their silence. Simply let them know that you support them and want them to be safe, so they can be comfortable looking for help with your assistance. Make sure you communicate that you are not accusing them, but are simply concerned for their wellbeing.

If you can speak to them in a safe space, you can provide positive assurance for them. Just remember that at the end of the day, you have to come from a place of love, not judgement. From there, you can start seeking out professional help when they personally feel safe enough for bigger steps.

If you feel like the situation is more urgent, it’s important to understand that you can call 911. However, it’s understandable if many are wary of involving police in the matter. The alternative is to reach out to community volunteers from organizations who are trained in addressing domestic violence. There are many similar groups cropping up across the country, like Justice Teams Network.

Since domestic violence is considered a public health problem, you can also reach out to public health professionals including nurses. As one of the top nursing careers, today’s public health nurses are trained to assist community members and recognize community-specific factors. This can be specific to women or men who are victimized by their partners and other family members in domestic violence cases. Nurses are taught to help victims in a mindful way while being able to treat and assess them properly. Their non-judgmental approach to care can help victims of DV open up to someone trustworthy, which can be crucial for their wellbeing and safety.

If you need assistance, SAVE has a 24-hour confidential hotline with trained advocates on the line. From there, you can also check out SAVE’s safe houses for those fleeing abuse. There are also many institutions you can reach out to by visiting physical centers or by calling accessible hotlines. The Bay Area region has a map for these organizations, with diverse listings that can cater to different minorities, financial situations, and locations. They also cover legal assistance, shelter, and health services. From that list, here are some of the ones you can contact:

1. A Safe Place
Oakland, CA 94623-0006
Phone number:
Crisis: (510) 536-7233
Office: (510) 986-8600

Services offered:
• 24 hour Crisis Shelter
• Teen Violence Prevention
• Community Education and Outreach
• Community Mental Health Services

2. Community United Against Violence
San Francisco, CA 94103-3629
Phone number:
(415) 333-4357

Services offered:
• Support groups
• Advocacy-Based Peer Counseling

3. Family Violence Law Center
Oakland CA, 94612
Phone number:
Office: (510) 208-0220

Services offered:
• Crisis Intervention and Support
• Legal Services
• Youth PRograms

4. Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence
San Jose CA, 95112-4724
Phone number:
(408) 279-2962

Services offered:
• Housing Solutions
• Crisis and Community Support
• Supportive Services

5. Victim Services- Sonoma County District Attorney Office
Santa Rosa, CA 95402
Phone number:
Office: (707) 565-8250

Services offered:
• Information on your rights as a crime victim
• Guidance in dealing with the court system
• Contact information for local resources and counseling referrals
• Assistance in filling out applications for the California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP) to reimburse you for out-of-pocket expenses related to your victimization
• Ongoing support while you learn to cope
• Spanish speaking advocates are available

There are plenty of resources to help your loved one; it is just a matter of knowing who to reach and when. Hopefully, this information can serve to help.

Specially written for SAVE by Roslynn Jeyne

The views and opinions are of the writer and not expressly SAVE’s.