1 in 4 women will be affected by domestic violence in their lifetime. Domestic and sexual violence can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender identity, race, income level, sexual orientation or religion. Learn more about the signs of abuse and resources that are available.
The YWCA Great Falls has a 24-hour help line at 406-453-1018 or
(800) 352-7449, providing trained and confidential services.
WARNING SIGNS OF ABUSE:
Because relationships exist on a spectrum, it can be hard to tell when a behavior crosses the line from healthy to unhealthy or abusive. Use these warning signs to see if your relationship is going in the wrong direction:
- Partner checks your cellphone or email without permission.
- Constantly puts you down.
- Extreme jealousy or insecurity.
- Explosive temper.
- Isolating you from family or friends.
- Making false accusations.
- Mood swings.
- Physically hurting you in any way.
- Telling you what to do.
If you have been abused, your immediate safety is the priority. If you are in danger, try to go to a safe place. If you are in immediate danger, call 911 and ask for emergency assistance or call your local proram at 406-453-1018 or one of the national hotlines below.
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) OR TTY: 1-800-787-3224
National Sexual Assault Hotline (RAINN): 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
National Teen Dating Violence Hotline: 1-866-331-9474 or TTY: 1-866-331-8453
Consider the Mercy Home Shelter as a possible option.
What can you do to support her?
(*For these purposes, we use the her/she pronoun knowing that women are the majority, but fully recognizing that all genders are victims of abuse.)
- Talk to her and help her open up. You may have to try several times before she will confide in you.
- Try to be direct and start by saying something like, “I’m worried about you because …” or “I’m concerned about your safety …”
- Do not judge her.
- Listen to and believe what she tells you – too often people do not believe a woman when she first discloses abuse.
- Reassure her that the abuse is not her fault and that you are there for her.
- Give her an emergency phone from the YWCA to keep.
- Don’t tell her to leave or criticize her for staying. Although you may want her to leave, she has to make that decision in her own time. It is important to remember that research shows an abused woman is at the most risk at the point of separation and immediately after leaving an abusive partner.
- Leaving takes a great deal of strength and courage. An abused woman often faces huge obstacles such as nowhere to go, no money and no one to turn to for support.
- Focus on supporting her and building her self-confidence.
- Acknowledge her strengths and frequently remind her that she is coping well with a challenging and stressful situation.
- An abused woman is often isolated and has no meaningful support – help her develop or keep up her outside contacts. This can help to boost her self-esteem.
- If she has not spoken to anyone else, encourage her to seek the help of a local domestic violence agency that understands what she is going through and offers specialist support and advice.
- Be patient. It can take time for a woman to recognize she is being abused and even longer to take be able to take safe and permanent decisions about what to do. Recognizing the problem is an important first step.
- If she is wanting information about abuse or resources – the YWCA Great Falls has packets of information (to be kept at work or in a safe space).
Helping a woman and her child stay safe.
- A woman’s safety and the safety of her children is paramount.
- Talk to her about how she and her children can be safe.
- Help her to stay safe:
- Agree on a code word or action that is only known to you both so she can signal when she is in danger and cannot access help herself.
- Don’t make plans for her yourself, but encourage her to think about her safety more closely and focus on her own needs rather than his.
- Find out information about local services for her; offer to keep spare sets of keys or important documents such as passports, birth certificates and Social Security cards for her and her children, and benefit books in a safe place so she can access them quickly in an emergency.
- Encourage her to think of ways in which she can increase the safety of her children.
- Remember it isn’t the children’s responsibility to protect their mother. In an emergency, they should call for help from the police and go to a neighbor or a relative or someone they trust.