Someone in our Community Group is Living with Abuse. What Should We Do?
Recognizing you have a role to play is the first step.
Speak to her one-on-one. Although she is part of your group, it is better if one person approaches her first to ask if she’s comfortable with having other concerned members of the group extend their support. Remember that she may feel overwhelmed and further victimized if a whole group approaches her at once.
Share tasks to maximize support. If there are multiple people in a group that she trusts, there are more opportunities to provide support to her – for example, a few members of the group could share the task of childcare, while another member helps make phone calls or takes her to a support agency to look at safety planning.
Be careful about confidentiality. If your community group is part of a “tight-knit” community that all lives in the same area, or shares the same culture, or language, she may be afraid to tell anyone about the abuse because of fear that word will get out to the rest of the community. Emphasize that there will be confidentiality within the group, if she does not wish for details to be shared within the broader community. If there are members of the broader community that could be helpful, ask her how she feels about them being involved in supporting her first – and respect whatever decision she makes.
Advocate for her. A community group may also be able to advocate for her together, as a group. For example, if she is facing a legal battle as a result of her leaving an abusive relationship, community group members could organize a support event, or accompany her to court. If she faces barriers accessing services in the community, your group can push for her to get the services that she needs.