Nothing is more painful than watching someone you care about suffer. Know the difference between a friend and a savior. Be there for your loved one, but realize you cannot save them. They must realize the severity of their situation and seek help when they are ready.
RESPONDING TO & PREVENTING VIOLENCE
There are resources for witnesses to a violent act:
- www.justice.gov provides a Victim-Witness Assistance Program to help witnesses better understand their options and rights regarding the criminal justice system. “As a victim of a crime, you may be experiencing feelings of confusion, frustration, fear, and anger. Our staff can help you deal with these feelings.” Read more here.
Finding a Weapon in a Public Space
If you’re ever in the position where you’ve found a gun or other weapon in a public space (such as a park or restaurant), follow the following recommendations:
- Call the cops. It is best if you don’t touch a firearm or weapon.
- If you cannot call the cops or get an experienced, trusted friend to help, don’t leave the weapon unattended.
- Take a close up picture of the weapon and also a picture showing the weapon in its current surroundings.
- Try to wrap the weapon in a shirt or towel without touching your bare skin to it. You would not want to get your fingerprints on it. If it’s a gun, be aware that it could still be ready to fire, so keep clear of the barrel. Take it to the nearest police station. The gun could be evidence of a crime.
- Call the cops directly or a trusted older friend to handle this situation.
“1 in 3 U.S. women and 1 in 4 men have had a partner who abused them in their lifetimes,” states the CDC. Their website offers a gameplan for assisting friends and loved ones:
Witnessing violence first hand
- Don’t get in between the abuser and the victim.
- Call the police.
- If you are certain you will not be detected, record or video the violence and pass it on to the authorities.
- You can also call 911 and leave the phone open. They will be listening in even if you are not speaking directly to them. This is extremely helpful if you are personally experience abuse or violence and do not want the abuser to know they are being overheard.
If you suspect violence but haven’t witnessed it
- Reach out. Confront your friend or neighbor in a neutral place. Enquire if they are OK.
- Offer resources to the victim. Make sure they keep this info hidden from the abuser to avoid retaliation.
Again, you are a friend, not a savior. It is the victim’s choice to leave, seek safety, and seek counseling. Don’t withdraw because you cannot be more involved. Be a friend. Be a listener. Research on their behalf but understand they have to take the steps or the resolution won’t stick. The CDC says, “On average, it takes domestic violence survivors seven times to leave the relationship for good, so don’t abandon the person you’re helping out of frustration.”
Additional resources recommended by the CDC
- National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- GLBTQ Domestic Violence Project
- National Resource Center on Domestic Violence