By Lisa Nitsch, Director of Training and Education, House of Ruth Maryland
In the recent sexual assault story involving Stanford student Brock Turner, two bystanders intervened and as a result, the offender was caught and authorities brought the victim to safety during a critical time. Many stories of violent crimes against woman, and more specifically, Intimate Partner Violence, involve bystanders. Intervention can be powerful but can also present dangerous situations for the bystander.
What do you do if you know someone is being abused? How can you help and keep yourself safe?
“There are three opportunities to respond to a violent situation,” said Lisa Nitsch, Director of Training and Education at the House of Ruth Maryland. “You can intervene before, during or after the abuse,” Nitsch said.
Before: Talk about it: Talk with the victim and let her know you’re there for her, when and if she needs help. Talk with local resources, like the House of Ruth Maryland to see what options are available for the victim. Talk with others you know to let them know that being abusive to their partner is wrong – whether it’s physical, emotional, financial abuse, etc.
During: Safety First: Intervention does not have to be an altercation. Create a non-threatening distraction for the abuser if you notice a situation getting heated like asking for the time or directions, recruit help from others in the area, be a witness and contact the authorities. During the incident is the most dangerous time for everyone and physically intervening could increase the danger for the victim and you.
After: Be a Resource: Talk with the victim and let her know that you are concerned for her and that it’s not her fault. Give her information about resources, like House of Ruth Maryland. Honor her privacy, although you want to help, she may not want everyone to know about the situation and may be embarrassed that you do. Let her know, whatever her choice is that day, even if she doesn’t feel safe enough to take action, you remain someone she can use as a resource.
If you or someone you know is a victim of intimate partner violence and you need help, please contact us at 410-889-RUTH (7884).
For more IPV resources, please visit the House of Ruth Maryland website.